Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Semper fidelis (always faithful)

Robert and Heather Wood had few funds when they arrived in Eugene, OR, last February from their former home in Alaska. They'd saved money on the Alaska Highway by pulling off at night and sleeping in their car. They decided to try the same thing their first night in Eugene, pulling into a neighborhood park and cuddling their two sons for warmth. Heather was also pregnant with their third child. Police Lt. David Natt found them at 10:30, and told them the park closed at 11:00 p.m. But when he saw how the family huddled together against the cold, he offered Robert two nights at a local hotel. Robert protested, saying he was a former Marine and didn't like to accept charity. Lt. Natt was also a former Marine, and they served in the same unit, ten years apart. When Lt. Natt offered the room for the third time, Robert accepted. He thought a fellow Marine was paying for it from his own pocket, but the money came from a unique source.

Five years ago, members of Eugene's University Fellowship Church decided that, instead of buying gifts for each other, they'd pool their money into a fund to be spent at police discretion. The cash they donated to the Eugene Police Department still has not run out.

"I have tears in my eyes, but they are good tears," Wood said on Facebook. "Tears of hope, gratitude and renewed courage to continue becoming a better man for myself, my family and the world around me."

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