Community service

Letter Carrier Heroes


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Letter Carrier Heroes
National Association of Letter Carriers
100 Indiana Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20001-2144

Letter Carrier Heroes of the Year

Letter carriers are in the communities they serve every day and often are the first to notice when something is wrong. They smell smoke, hear someone calling for help or notice something that just doesn’t seem right. Often, they are the first to respond and lend a helping hand.

Each year, NALC highlights the special acts of courage and compassion performed by letter carriers who improve—or save— lives along their routes, by recognizing some of them as NALC’s Heroes of the Year.

A panel of independent judges gathers annually to review stories of heroism and community service published over the course of a year in The Postal Record to determine the winners.

“We are immensely proud of what the heroes being recognized did,” NALC President Brian L. Renfroe said. “They represent our country’s best in public service. They truly are our heroes.”

This year's heroes, listed below, will be honored at a ceremony in the spring. 

National Hero of the Year: Philip Moon of Amarillo, TX Branch 1037

On his route in October, 37-year carrier Philip Moon was in his mail truck when he heard a commotion. The carrier saw a customer with her two small dogs under attack from a large dog. Moon, a member of Amarillo, TX Branch 1037, jumped out to help.

He managed to fight off the attacking dog and pull the woman and one of her dogs into his truck. The woman was bleeding badly from dog bites to her left leg. “The whole bottom of the floorboard was filling up with blood,” he said. Moon called 911 and then took off his shirt to use to compress her wounds, which helped stop the bleeding.

“Then the dog came back and bit down on her other leg,” he said. The dog forced its way into the partly closed door of the truck, forcing them both to fight off the dog as best they could. The woman’s husband had heard the struggle and came to help.“Then the dog went after me,” Moon said, biting his shoe and slightly injuring his ankle. “All this time, I’m talking to the 911 operator.”

First responders arrived and animal control officers caught the dog while EMTs tended to the victim. Moon drove back to the post office, and that night, he visited the woman in the hospital, where he was told she had passed out twice from loss of blood. “You saved her twice,” police responders told Moon—once from the dog and again from bleeding to death.

Moon doesn’t consider his actions particularly heroic. “I’ll be honest with you—I was scared to death,” he said. “I was just running on adrenaline.”

“Knowing the people I work with, anybody would have done what I did,” he added. “I don’t consider myself a hero.”

Humanitarian of the Year: Harry Bittner of Camden, NJ Merged Branch 540

Music has always been a part of Harry Bittner’s life. He grew up listening to Motown records around the house that his parents played, and then got exposed to rock ’n’ roll music through neighborhood kids. He picked up a bass guitar when he was 15 and has loved playing ever since. “I got started just because a friend of mine was kind of dabbling with the guitar,” he said. “His older brother was in a band, and we would sneak down and play their instruments when they weren’t around.”

Fast-forward to 2019, when the Camden, NJ Merged Branch 540 member joined a five-member cover band called uNGLuED. They practice once a week, usually perform two shows a month at bars or other events like festivals, and the bandmates work together to choose songs to cover.

“They jokingly call me ‘Heavy Metal Harry’ because my background before doing this cover band was doing heavy metal stuff, so I like harder stuff,” Bittner said, and added that his biggest musical inspiration is Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris. “But we tend to try and pick songs that we know will go over with the crowd,” he said. “We’re more inclined to do Michael Jackson and Prince. We don’t do Metallica and Megadeth, you know what I mean?”

The carrier was enjoying playing regular gigs with the band when uNGLuED’s singer, Wally, approached them in the fall of 2020 and told them about his longtime desire to do a traveling Christmas show by driving around a truck to a few locations, and the band would then play some Christmas carols on the back to spread some cheer. “I immediately said, ‘Yeah, I’m in,’ ” Bittner said.

However, that winter of 2020, COVID-19 was spreading, and events were shutting down. They began to fear that they’d get in trouble for gathering, so Bittner suggested that maybe they raise some money to help out people who need it while they play, in case they were questioned by police.

Then, fortuitously, an acquaintance of the carrier heard about their plans and asked if she could put them in touch with a friend of hers who is a retired prosecutor, who works with a charity and who could help the band find families who could be helped through the money collected.

“And boy, did she ever,” Bittner said. “I mean, you hear these nightmare, horrible stories about everything from people that had lost their jobs and just were hurting for money with little kids to a woman that was a victim of domestic violence and kind of out on her own.”

Plans soon came together, and the band began scouting locations and practicing songs. Wally spent a few weeks preparing the 20-foot utility trailer, and attaching the drum set to it so they can travel with it.

“We would tow this huge trailer decked out in lights and with a tree on it to a couple of different neighborhoods where we knew it wouldn’t be an issue,” Bittner said. “And then we went to a school that was closed at night [so] we’d have this big, giant open lot. We went to another community down the road where there was a VFW [Veterans of Foreign Wars].”

The first year they played four stops. Bittner’s friend, Joe Popow, whom he called “the most authentic Santa you’ve ever seen in your life” accompanied them. He also recruited his youngest of two daughters, Alyssa, who dressed as an elf and handed out candy canes to children and walked around with a bucket to collect money from concertgoers.

People in the local communities, including some of his co-workers, “bring their kids, kids go see Santa,” Bittner said. “They listen to us, give us a couple of bucks, and we would get it to the right people when all this was over.”

Within a week or so, the band and Santa visited the houses of the selected families and dispersed gift cards and presents.

“It kind of grew into this thing where we’d be able to get information on the families, like how many kids, what are their ages, what are their sizes,” he said, adding that the bandmates’ spouses shop for the kids’ clothes and toys, and then they’d all wrap the items. “It was a huge success,” Bittner said of the 2020 endeavor—so much so “that we had every intention of doing it every year.”

They had just set out preparing for the 2021 show that October when Bittner went in for routine blood work. “Next thing you know, I’m casing mail in the morning. I get a phone call from the nurse, and she says, ‘Your liver enzymes are through the roof, and we’ve got to figure out why,’ ” the 29-year letter carrier said. “And that just kind of set off this chain of events where I had to get all these different tests.

“It was an ultrasound and then an MRI, and I find out I have this tumor, and they thought I had bile duct cancer initially, and it’s like a death sentence,” he continued, adding that after undergoing a colonoscopy he was eventually correctly diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer. “I’m reading, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God, how did I go from perfectly healthy a month ago to, man, I might have three or five years?’ You know, that starts all setting in.”

His eldest daughter, Haley, was getting married that December, and Bittner was convinced by a friend to get his minister’s license to officiate the ceremony, so he did. “She’ll always have this to remember—that her dad married her,” he said.

“Around the same time, we’re doing Year 2 of the Christmas gig. And it’s just under this shroud of uncertainty and fear and what’s going to happen next. I know that chemo is coming, and I just kept thinking, ‘Boy, I hope it doesn’t start until after the Christmas gig,’ ” he added. “I didn’t want to let my bandmates down. I didn’t want to let the people down that were going to be on the receiving end of these gifts.”

Fortunately, he was able to fully participate in the annual festivities. “It was even a bigger success than the first year. More people turned out, more money was raised, more families were helped,” Bittner said. They started to mix up the format, adding in some regular rock music, too.

They continued to collect cash, sometimes gift cards, and also PayPal donations at each stop. After receiving help from the retired prosecutor the first year with selecting families, the band was able to start finding them on their own. “People started hearing we were doing this, and we’d have people come to [us and] say, ‘Hey, man, I know this family, and they just had a house fire and lost everything. Can you help them out?’ ” he said. “We’ll check into it and be, like, ‘OK, this is legit. Let’s help these people out.’ ”

One of his favorite memories from the endeavor was when he and the band was playing a gig in the fall, and he saw a man he recognized but couldn’t place. In between sets, the man approached the band and said they had helped him and his family out the first year when they were in a tough spot. He had then gotten a new job and was doing better, so he wanted to offer a donation for another family in need. “That was really cool, because that was like, we’ve made a difference in these people’s lives, and now they’re appreciative, and they’re here to support us as a band—but more importantly, they’re here to pay it forward and give it to somebody else who’s now down on their luck.”

Bittner began chemotherapy in January 2022 and tried working his postal job through his treatment to keep a sense of normalcy, but he ended up taking some time off here and there for treatments, which included eight chemo infusions, followed by five radiation treatments, and then a major surgery in which surgeons removed 60 percent of his liver and a section of his colon. In addition, “I had my gallbladder removed, hernia repaired, and I ended up with an ileostomy bag for nine weeks,” he said.

“They sent me [for] a scan in December of last year, and they found a tiny little piece of cancer in my common bile duct,” he continued. “And there again, the first thing I’m thinking is, ‘I don’t know when surgery is going to be, but I hope I can get this Christmas gig in,’ and I find out the surgery is going to be February. We did Christmas show No. 3 last December. And again—bigger, better, more money, more families.”

Being involved with music is both fun and rewarding, Bittner said. “Playing in the band has been so invaluable to me during my cancer journey, because every minute I spend learning a song, playing a song, playing out, it’s another minute that I’m not thinking about cancer,” he said, adding, “And that was really crucial, I think, for me to maintain a good attitude [and] press forward.”

As the December 2023 issue of the Postal Record was going to press, the carrier and his bandmates were winding down the last of their regular gigs for the year and gearing up for the fourth annual charity show on Dec. 9. “I’m sure it’ll be bigger and better than it’s been the last couple of years. It just keeps growing,” he said. “I think as long as the five of us are together as a band, that we’ll continue to do it.”

Bittner said of their fundraising, “You just do it because it’s the right thing to do. While it’s been a rough two years for my family, there’s people out there that have it worse.” This year they planned to help multiple people yet again, including a family they’ve met who lost everything in a house fire, even their dogs.

“When you’re in a cover band, you’re not looking to be famous or anything,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re just doing it because it’s fun, and it’s a cool night out. You hope that people dig it, and in our case, with uNGLuED, you hope that you’re building up this fan base that will also contribute to the Christmas thing at the end of the year, and they do. The reason why we’ve collected $13,000 in three years is because we have people that come see us at those other shows.”

As for himself, “things are looking up. There’s no sign of cancer right now,” Bittner said, and he added, “I’m one of the lucky ones. It’s not lost on me that so many people don’t come out the other side from this. I feel very blessed.” Haley, whose wedding Bittner presided over, is expecting a baby girl in January, and the carrier and his wife, Joan, are looking forward to being grandparents.

Indeed, he’s thought of his legacy. “I want my kids, and my grandkids eventually, to have something to remember—that even when I was as low as low could be in the worst possible shape anybody could be in, I still was committed to getting out and doing this Christmas gig,” he said.

“And I want people to go, ‘Hey, you know what? This dude, he wasn’t feeling great and he looked like hell, but he bundled up and put hand warmers in his pocket and jumped on a trailer to play Christmas carols to help out other people that weren’t doing so good,’ ” he added. “That’s what it’s about for me. That’s why I do it.”

Vigilant Hero Award: Tommy Howe of Fall River, MA Branch 51 and Kyle Mailman of Wichita, KS Branch 201

Tommy Howe of Fall River, MA Branch 51

Out on his route in Taunton, MA, on a hot July day, Fall River Branch 51 member Tommy Howe thought the man sitting by the road with a push lawnmower resting on his legs was feeling the effects of the heat. It looked serious enough that Howe stopped to help the man. “I tried to sit him up,” Howe said, but the man lost consciousness and collapsed. “That’s when I knew it was serious,” he said. “I had to get help quickly.” Howe, a carrier since 2007, spotted a pair of roofers working on a house nearby and yelled to them to assist. He took the lead, calling 911 and telling one roofer to flag down the approaching ambulance and gave the other one his water jug to give water to the stricken man. “His lips were blue, so I know it was a matter of minutes” before he could die, Howe said. “We basically kept him alive until the ambulance got there.” EMTs arrived and managed to revive the man, who fully recovered. Though the man lost his memory of that day, he was apparently stung by insects and had an allergic reaction. The man was thankful when he talked to Howe later, and the city of Taunton gave him a certificate of appreciation, but Howe doesn’t think of himself as a hero. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time,” Howe said. “I reacted.”

Kyle Mailman of Wichita, KS Branch 201

Two-year carrier Kyle Mailman is helping Wichita, KS, with a dangerous gopher problem. Recently, construction of a bridge spanning the Arkansas River was causing gophers to move into a residential area near the bridge. The gophers dug long tunnels underground, and when they encountered gas lines, they often chewed through them, causing dangerous leaks, Mailman said. Delivering the mail on a route in that area in April, the Wichita Branch 201 member approached a recessed door of a home to put the mail in a door slot. “I’d heard a report in the area of people having gas leaks,” he said. When he reached this door, the odor was unmistakable. “I about choked right then and there.” Mailman warned the woman who lived there. “I knocked on the door rather feverishly,” he said, and told her to call the authorities immediately. After experiencing the ill effects of breathing gas himself due to an unlit pilot light on a stove many years ago, Mailman could tell that the woman showed the signs of gas poisoning. When the gas company came to fix the outdoor leak, it also found a leak in a faulty valve of an indoor gas fireplace as well. “To me, it’s not really a big deal,” Mailman said about his actions, which may have saved a life, “because I hope everyone would be out there helping each other.”

The Partnership Award: Earnest Twomley, David Correa, Heriberto Rodriguez and Daniel Weber of New York, NY Branch 36

New York, NY Branch 36 carrier Earnest Twomley’s chance encounter with a child on his route a decade ago led him to organize toy drives for needy children every Christmas.

Seeing a mother he knew from his route emerging from a taxi with her three children, he noticed that one of the children, a little girl, was in distress.

“She’s screaming in the middle of the street,” he recalled. “I went over there to see what the issue was because I have three kids myself.”

He offered to help by delivering the little girl to her home.

“I said, ‘Have you ever been delivered to your apartment by a mailman?’ And she just looked at me and started laughing. So, I picked her up, carried a couple of flights of stairs, put her on a couch, and that was it.”

But then a neighbor who saw what he did told him the significance of his kind act.

“One of the neighbors said, ‘That was a real nice thing you did.’ I said, ‘What? Stop a little girl from crying?’ ” The neighbor told Twomley that the little girl had a brain tumor and was returning from New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center after a round of treatment.

Wanting to do something more for the family, the next time he saw the mother while out on his route, he asked her for letters to Santa Claus from the children. He then asked some fellow carriers to help fulfill the wish list, and everyone pitched in.

“So, picture a grown man going into the American Girl doll store and picking out the stuff that she wanted!” Twomley said.

Twomley and some other carriers invited the family to get the presents under the Christmas tree in the lobby of his station in Manhattan. Somehow a local TV news station heard about it, and when the story aired an idea was born.

“The newscaster called us ‘the Better Angels.’ “ That inspired Twomley and fellow Branch 36 members David Correa and Heriberto Rodriguez along with postal employee Don Daggett to form a nonprofit group called the Better Angels of Human Nature to bring the spirit of that first generous toy drive to many more children.

Postal employees at several stations in New York donate toys each year for the effort, each filling up a postal container with toys.

Of course, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus. A few years ago, after spotting fellow Branch 36 carrier Daniel Weber growing a beard, Twomley hatched a plan, asking Weber to let it grow out until Christmas. “So he’s our official Santa Claus” each year, Twomley said.

The group’s outreach has expanded far beyond that first family by serving children with disabilities in schools and needy children in women’s shelters. Last Christmas, the Better Angels provided gifts for 290 children at the New Hope Transitional Housing family shelter in the Bronx and for 153 kids at PS 186X Walter Damrosch School, a Bronx special education school.

This year they are busy collecting even more toys for PS 186X. “We have 800 kids with disabilities in the school where we’re going to fill the gymnasium up with toys and everything else for them,” he said. “What we usually do is get the toys and put them in a room. The kids come in, they pick whatever they want.”

Despite serving so many children, the Better Angels always seem to have extra gifts for others who reach out for help, because they lean on the community to donate along with postal employees.

“Right now, I have about 300 toys in my secret toy closet in the post office,” Twomley said. “The carriers ask some of these high-rise buildings—we’re in Midtown—to put out a toy box. The whole neighborhood knows us already. So we put the collection boxes in there.”

The Better Angels piggyback on the postal network to retrieve the toys. “We have relay drivers. They have to bring relays out there. So, every time they go to the building, they check the box to see if it’s full and they bring them back. That’s how simple it is.” Several other stations in the area now help to collect toys from donation boxes.

“And management is 100 percent behind me with this,” he added. “Even our area manager is getting involved with me as well because he has a friend in the New York Police Department—and we just made an announcement that we’re going to be joining forces with them as well.”

Like the system itself, Twomley’s slogan for the operation is simple: “Everyone gets a toy.”

Twomley said the satisfaction of seeing the joy his work brings children is its own reward. He still remembers a mother who called and pleaded with him to keep a toy giveaway at a shelter open late one day, because she was late bringing her daughter.

“She comes running in, and she’s out of breath,” he said. The woman was parked in the street because she couldn’t find parking, so someone went to watch her car and others brought her daughter, Mia, who used a wheelchair, inside.

“Her face lit up because we left all the toys that we were going to leave for them anyway in that room. And I said, ‘Mia, just pick anything that you want. It’s yours,’ ” he said.

“Her mother started crying, and for everybody in that room, there was not a dry eye in the place. And she picked up her toys, and we made her day. And for that moment, that moment is exactly why we do that.”

Twomley and the other Better Angels want to grow the project even more by getting more stations in New York City involved in collecting toys.

After 37 years on the job, Twomley is thinking about retiring soon, but he doesn’t plan to stop delivering joy: “I actually ripped out my garage and put an office together, and it’s just about done. So, when I retire, that’s going to be our main headquarters, and then I’m going to concentrate every year going around to all the post offices.” 

Eastern Region Hero: Timothy "Tim" Martin of Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3

Delivering packages on New Year’s Eve, Buffalo-Western New York Branch 3 member Tim Martin turned a corner and saw a car on fire in front of a mobile home. Some neighbors were trying to put out the fire by throwing snow on it, but Martin noticed that the technique was not working. Other neighbors were filming the fire with their phones.

But then he realized that the fire was spreading to the mobile home.

Knowing that an elderly resident with breathing problems lived there, Martin asked the neighbors if she was home. They said yes—but kept filming.

The fire was blocking the front door, so Martin rushed to the back of the trailer. He pushed the back door open, but it was held shut with bungee cord. “Luckily, I’m skinny enough to squeeze through,” he said. He found the home filling with smoke and the woman looking frantically for her shoes. “Let’s get you outside,” he told her as he helped her leave the house with her purse and dog.

First responders had arrived, and Martin helped the woman find an EMT who could give her oxygen. To avoid blocking the fire vehicles that were coming to the scene, he left in his truck, continuing his route. Martin returned a few days later and learned the woman was all right and had been able to move back into the home.

In recognition of his heroic actions, his supervisor coined a slogan for Martin: “I deliver bills and save lives,” and even made him a superhero cape. It was all in fun, but Martin said he doesn’t feel like a hero.

“I just think I’m just a regular guy,” he said. “I was just happy that I could help.”

Central Region Hero: Dominic Jack of Baton Rouge, LA Branch 129

Central region hero of the yearOn his route in White Castle, LA, earlier this year, Dominic Jack had just delivered to a house at the end of a loop and was circling back when he saw trouble. “I saw gray smoke coming from the back of the house,” he said. The twoyear carrier, a member of Baton Rouge Branch 129, knew there were children living in the house, so he rushed to help.

“I could hear somebody screaming,” he said.

He saw a small boy in the back yard, afraid to move. He coaxed the boy to come to him to reach safety. Jack then encountered a teenage girl at the front and convinced her not to go back inside to retrieve her phone. He went through the back door of the burning house to rescue the children’s grandmother, who he found near the door, and helped her to the street.

When he was sure all four children and the grandmother were safe, Jack went to the next-door neighbor’s home to warn them because he knew there were elderly people living there, and then alerted the neighbors on the other side. The house on fire was completely engulfed by the flames, but the others were not harmed—but more importantly, nobody was killed or injured.

“Due to the quick thinking of this carrier we, and several of our neighbors, were able to get out of our houses safely and before the firefighters had arrived on the scene,” one elderly neighbor wrote to the post office. “Carrier Dominic is definitely an asset to the Postal Service and the community!”

“It was just an instant reaction,” Jack said of his heroic efforts. “I just did what I would do any day.”

Western Region Hero: Randall "Randy" Fields of Boulder, CO Branch 642

Randy Fields was in the Valmont Post Office in Boulder, CO, on a July morning when disaster struck.

“I heard a big crash and saw glass exploding into the post office,” he said. A car had crashed into the building. He ran toward it and watched as the driver tried to back out, then move forward, then back out again. As other co-workers tried to stop the woman from moving the car, Fields heard someone moaning in pain.

“I turned the corner and saw a man on all fours,” the Boulder Branch 642 member said. “Blood was pulsating from a wound on his left arm.” The car had struck him and pinned him to a counter. The man, he later learned, was a postal customer named William Coffin.

Fields, who has carried the mail since 2005, took off his belt and used it as a tourniquet with the help of a postal customer. They managed to stop the bleeding, but Coffin had lost a large amount of blood already and was slipping in and out of consciousness, so they talked to him to try to keep him awake.

“I was scared he was going to die,” Fields said.

Coffin was seriously injured and when EMTs arrived, they took him to the hospital. Fields and his co-workers managed to go out on their routes that day. Police said charges are pending against the driver.

Coffin survived and eventually returned home from the hospital. “Mr. Coffin sustained a whole list of injuries,” Field added, including “a lacerated artery in his left arm, 16 broken ribs, fractured tibia separated from his knee, both ACLs and MCLs torn in both knees, a shattered pelvis, collapsed lung and dislocated shoulder.” Coffin will have to undergo more surgeries and rehabilitation before he is fully recovered.

To thank Fields for helping to save his life, Coffin had him over for dinner. “The emotions were incredible,” Fields said, “as we relived every moment for a solid two hours.”

As for being called heroic, Fields said, “It took me a long while to realize that I am a hero. I initially just thought it was something that everyone would do for another human being.”

Honorable Mention: Timmye Crowley of Billings, MT Branch 815 and Brittany Giles of West Palm Beach, FL Branch 1690

Timmye Crowley of Billings, MT Branch 815
After 21 years on the job, Timmye Crowley knows her customers well. On her route on a cold, icy evening in Billings, MT, in November 2022, Crowley got out of her vehicle on her mounted route to bring an elderly customer’s mail to his door so he wouldn’t have to come to his box in the bad weather. When she reached the door, the Billings Branch 815 member heard the man’s smoke detector beeping. Looking in the window, Crowley spotted the man asleep in a chair despite the beeping and the smoke filling the room. She knew he was hard of hearing and the smoke alarm wasn’t waking him. “I started pounding on the door, kicking it and ringing the doorbell,” she said. The man finally woke up and came to the door, still unaware of the fire. “He had no idea what was going on.” Crowley called 911 and brought the man to safety. “I got him outside, away from the smoke,” she said. At the door, she noticed the fire was simply a plug-in cooking appliance with burning food inside, so she went inside and unplugged it. After the fire department arrived, Crowley returned to her route. U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana later honored Crowley for her actions. “I didn’t feel like a hero,” Crowley said. “I feel like I was just doing my job.

Brittany Giles of West Palm Beach, FL Branch 1690
Brittany Giles was leaving work one day in December last year when she saw her manager doing something different. “My boss was making these super cute envelopes and stuffing them with a bunch of stuff,” the Port St. Lucie, FL, letter carrier said. They were responses from kids’ letters to Santa. “There were really cute letters she typed up, acknowledging that these kids wrote to Santa, and she put in colored pencils, crayons, coloring books, candy canes, whatever.”

Giles, a six-year letter carrier with West Palm Beach Branch 1690, immediately asked her manager if there were more. “I saw the bag and I started reading them, and a lot of them broke my heart. There were a lot of super-sad letters,” she said. But one stood out.

Camron King, then 10 years old, asked Santa for some toys and to have his family “come together and to have fun and to not get bullied.”

Giles knew she had to get involved.

“When I read that, you know, I’m a mom. I have two little kids. I’m super big on family. I have always taught my children to be as nice as possible to everyone, especially the struggling children at school that are being picked on. Those are the ones that you want to go make friends with, right?” she said. “This was almost a year ago now, and I can still tell you exactly what the letter said because it stuck with me so much, because his letter was about how he wanted his family. He didn’t want to be bullied. I mean, it broke my heart.”

Giles left her post office that evening and went to the return address on the Santa letter—the residence of Camron’s grandparents, who looked at this uniformed letter carrier like she was strange. After explaining that she had received Camron’s letter and wanted to know what toys he would like (he hadn’t included anything specific on his letter), the grandfather began crying.

“You have no idea how much this means to me,” he told her. He also called Camron’s mother, Amy, who brought the boy to meet Giles.

“He normally goes to Grandma and Grandpa’s house after school, and then he had his cousin help him write the letter,” Amy King told WPTV, the West Palm Beach NBC affiliate. Camron was born without his left hand and has a muscle nerve disorder. “It’s called [Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease], so that affects his nerves and muscles in his legs and arms, so as he gets older it kind of deteriorates.

“They said he wouldn’t be able to walk, but he’s walking, running, playing soccer. I’m very proud of him. I always say, he’s my little miracle baby,” King added.

When Giles—a cancer survivor who was told (incorrectly) that she would never have children—met Camron, she told him, “I work for Santa and I read your letter, but you didn’t say what type of toys you want. So, he sent me down here to get a list and bring it back to him.”

The boy’s face lit up and he gave her a list of gifts for him and his family. Giles wrote down his ideas, but she left with a few more that hadn’t made it onto the list.

She reached out to St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Ethan Kirk and Rebecca Ireland. They all pooled their own money to buy the gifts on the list. And Deputy Kirk told WPTV that he “asked [Camron] if there’s anything I can do for him, whether it’s go to his school, talk with his school resource deputy and just try to figure out a plan and try to get this stopped.” The police ultimately held an anti-bullying assembly at Camron’s school and spoke to every kid there.

After local news covered the story, it began to take on a life of its own. The national organization Bikers Against Bullying contacted Giles and wanted to do something. They rented out a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant and arcade and hosted a party for Camron and his family. Just as he had asked in his letter, he got to come together with his family and have some fun. “It was a great thing to see how many people truly cared and wanted to get involved and be a part of this,” Giles said.

She encourages everyone to help in their community. “I’m sure every community or city has a mayor, and if you don’t have anything that your office is a part of, you can always go through that way and try and get involved with your city. But, especially after COVID, things are rough for a lot of people right now,” she said.

As for Camron, the carrier still is a part of his life, seeing him and his family regularly. “This is my extended family at this point,” she said. “Community is everything. Family is everything. And it doesn’t have to be by blood.” “Camron is not going to live a long life,” Giles explained. “As he gets older, his body will start shutting down. He does not retain information. He does not remember a lot of things. But the fact that I could give that kid a merry Christmas, even if it only lasted in his mind for a few moments, it was worth it.”