PUBLISHED: 6:36 PM on Wednesday, January 2, 2008
Wal-Mart gift cards given to Alaska National Guard soldiers, families
Children from five Alaska National Guard families were honored with Wal-Mart gift cards presented by Gov. Sarah Palin on Dec. 20.

The gift cards were donated by Wal-Mart to The Salvation Army who contacted the Alaska National Guard to help choose local military families to thank for their service and commitment, which can sometimes cause family hardships.

Each of the children received a $50 gift card and a personal shopper to escort them though the Wal-Mart on Dimond Boulevard to buy clothes and toys.

"My daughter had a brain tumor two years ago in May, and while I was deployed, I found out that she had another one and had to come home on emergency leave," said Spc. Kristopher Fager, of the Alaska Army National Guard's 207th Aviation. "Both times we had to go to Seattle so she could be treated; it gets very expensive. Without this I didn't think we'd be able to have a Christmas. I thought maybe a couple gifts but not like we normally have. It means a lot to us that Wal-Mart and The Salvation Army are doing this."

With $25,000 in gift certificates donated regionally by Wal-Mart to The Salvation Army, they were able to honor some of the children of our local military families.

Photo by Sgt. Karima Turner, Alaska National Guard Public Affairs Office
  Gov. Sarah Palin presents a gift-card donated by Wal-Mart and The Salvation Army to 7-year-old Charline Fager. Fager is the daughter of Alaska Army National Guard Spc. Kristopher Fager, 207th Aviation.
"As partners of Operation Santa Claus, we appreciate the working relationship we have with the Alaska National Guard," said Jenni Ragland, public relations director for The Salvation Army Alaska Division. "So many families in Alaska are affected by deployment, which is very difficult especially during the holiday season, so we thought this was a wonderful opportunity to help encourage some of these families and help them have a nice Christmas."

"I think it's great," said Marty Howard, store manager for the Wal-Mart on Dimond Boulevard. "There aren't any more deserving people than the people who sacrifice their lives to defend the country, and we need to be able to support them. We want to do our part, and we're tremendously honored and glad to be able to help."