HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- One local Army family is helping another Army family through grief this Holiday season. Ron Upton recently retired from the Army after 22 years, and four different deployments. He was on a last minute trip to the dry cleaners when he saw a woman sobbing, holding a soldier's dress uniform.
"First, when she noticed me walking up, she said, 'Oh my gosh, excuse me, I'm so sorry,'" said Upton. "Ma'am, by all means, please share your story, what happened?"
She told him the uniform is the one her son-in-law will be buried in, he had died unexpectedly the day before. She said he was an Army soldier who had lived in Huntsville with his wife and three children.
"I came home and tried to tell Ann the story, as I did I started to break up and cry too," Upton said. "She came up with the idea, she said, 'Why don't we handle Christmas for the kids?'"
Ron's wife Ann then took to social media. Through donations from their friends, families, even strangers, the Uptons raised hundreds of dollars to buy Christmas gifts for the three kids aged eighteen, eight, and a year and a half.
"As a mom of five children, three of whom are very young, the first thing that came to my mind was they lost their dad right before Christmas," Ann Upton said. "We need to help them have a holiday that has a bright spot."
The Uptons took their own children to help pick out the gifts, their daughter Rebecca says she liked getting to play Santa.
"It's impossible to not look at your family and be thankful for what you have," Ann Upton said. "But then also, so heartbroken that someone has to go through this."
The Uptons said that it doesn't take a lot to make a difference in someone's life, you just have to ask.
"I think it's so much simpler than we make it, you just have to take the first step," Ron Upton said. "That's it. You take the first step and it's amazing the momentum you gain."