Nelson says he’s overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers and plans to put the Secret Santa money to good use.
Holidays are a difficult time and more so for large families. It gets more and more difficult for single parents. Dakota Nelson was forced to work three jobs to take care of his seven children, aged 1 through 16 after his wife unexpectedly passed away in 2018. Nelson discovered his 38-year-old wife Ream unconscious and lying on the ground outside their house. “We were working in the garage, goofing around and having fun, and I came back and she just was dead on the ground basically,” Nelson told the East Idaho News. Having our children witness this is unthinkable,” he added. According to doctors, she had been without oxygen to her brain for over 20 minutes. Before she passed away in September 2018, she spent weeks in a coma for three months.
The family was struggling with their unimaginable loss during the holidays that year. However, a stranger decided to bring some Christmas cheer to them by gifting the family $10,000.
Nelson was surprised with the $10,000 by East Idaho News, who arrived at his house. “Secret Santa asked we take him a $1,000 in gift cards, also $1,000 to another store and an $8,000 check", the news organization employee Nate Eaton describes the details of the surprise. Nelson broke down in tears as he was overcome with grief and joy at the same time.
He sent a letter to his Secret Santa, and he granted EastIdahoNews.com permission to publish it. "It is hard to write this as I am at a total loss for words. There is no way for me to accurately convey how grateful we are for this kindness." He continued, "As I was surprised with the gifts, I looked at my kids – who will remember this event forever as the best time they had in a hard time." Expressing his gratitude he wrote, "Thank you for being an example to my family on how to look out for the needs of others."
Nelson said that everyone in life faces "some sort of event that is strenuous to the soul but I had not realized how much one can be happy even when the light is out and it is dark. Thank you for being that light." Nelson expresses gratitude for the generosity of strangers and says he will make good use of the Secret Santa funds.
Nelson drives one vehicle (that was recently donated to him when his vehicle broke down) and his 16-year-old son drives another whenever they go anywhere together because his family currently does not have a vehicle large enough to transport everyone. One of his two oldest kids said, "This will probably be my best Christmas ever." Another added, "I can not even begin to tell you how grateful my family is."
Several days after Ream's collapse, a GoFundMe account was created in which Ream was remembered as someone with "kindness, strength, sense of humor and love for others." She was also coaching her volleyball girls. When Ream passed, Nelson was a part-time seminary and Sunday school teacher in his church.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Dakota Nelson