Shawn Triplett is a retired U.S. Marine who was inspired by the tragic destruction that hit his town of Mayfield, Kentucky, earlier this month to do his part to salvage Christmas for some of the children and families hardest hit by devastating tornado damage.
Triplett volunteers at a local elementary school and church and told reporters he was moved to develop a way to help young survivors have a better Christmas when he saw a mother and her young son suffering while working at a church shelter. He said they were both crying, but the mother was doing her best to stay strong. He said when the young boy told his mother that he had lost his Christmas, he broke down and walked outside.
Triplett, who served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, said that the destruction in Mayfield was the worst he had ever seen. He said that his entire town was leveled and nothing he had seen in war zones compared to it. After feeling the pain of the family he witnessed at the church shelter, he said that he decided his mission was going to be to give them back their Christmas.
Triplett started his efforts with a $10,000 fundraising effort with his friends and family. As word spread through social media, his slight movement began to grow. With people from all around the country joining in, almost $100,000 was raised by Christmas Eve.
The Marine said that the response has been “unreal,” with donations coming into the GoFundMe page he started from “all over the globe.” On the page, he said that he was raising funds to buy Christmas toys for displaced Mayfield children spending the holiday season in shelters or with family or friends.
Triplett made many trips to a local Walmart store to fill carts with gifts he would wrap himself. The store donated 25 percent of the cost of the toys to the effort. He said that because of the overwhelming generosity shown to the kids in need, the original goal of giving gifts to 30 children grew to hundreds.
The retired warrior said that the support for the kids in his town has been “humbling and overwhelmingly incredible.”