Family of fallen Marine still serving

Published 9:01 pm Friday, December 23, 2011

If Christmas is truly the season for giving to others, then few people are exemplifying that spirit with more selflessness than the family of local hero LCpl. Travis Nelson.

A native of Bratt, Fla., Nelson was killed in action while serving in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan in August.

Only months removed from their family’s tragedy, the Nelsons are doing what they can to give back to the community they say was incredibly supportive following the death of their son by providing home cooked meals to local people in need.

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Nelson’s father Scott said the family kicked around several ideas for how they could help in their area during the holidays before deciding to supply Christmas meals.

“We wanted to do something different this Christmas,” he said. “We wanted to do something more than the traditional decorating the tree. We came up with several different ideas and we finally said, ‘Hey, why don’t we feed somebody.’”

The Nelsons’ original plan was to prepare 80 meals for locals who are elderly, disabled or otherwise shut in; but Scott said the number has grown, and the family was happy to accommodate.

“You can’t hardly say no,” he said. “We have about 97 meals we’re delivering Saturday.”

Scott said the reason for going to such great lengths this holiday season is not simply to remember the heroism of their son, but also to say thank you to the community for their support during the family’s time of loss.

“The reason is kind of two-fold,” he said. “One being the community, it’s unbelievable the support we had. Even from people we didn’t know. It really touched us.”

Scott said another reason his family decided to give back is to act in a way that commemorates the ultimate sacrifice LCpl. Nelson made for his community and country.

“We started a scholarship for Travis, and we decided to do this around the holidays to honor him,” Scott said.

As the family begins to wind down the final stages of cooking and begin deliveries, Scott said the outpouring of assistance has made the family consider making this year’s holiday gesture an annual event.

“We’ve had a lot of volunteers,” he said. “The community has really come out and offered their assistance. If it grows and goes well and people seem to appreciate it, we make look into making it an annual thing.”

The Nelson family is preparing all of this year’s meals working from personal funds and will begin distributing the food Saturday to local residents who requested the service or were referred to the family.