Kentucky Marine veteran raises thousands and donates Christmas surprise to storm victims

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A Marine veteran from Kentucky helped deliver Christmas cheer after a tornado wreaked havoc through his home state just two weeks ago. 

Shawn Triplett raised nearly $100,000 in donations to deliver holiday presents to victims of the tornado that devastated several counties in western Kentucky.

“Everyone has been amazing and roughly 1,200 families have been helped in some way,” he told Fox News.  

Triplett garnered attention after posting a photo to Twitter showing the devastation from his hometown of Mayfield before continuing on for more than 220 miles.

Triplett, who rushed to the scene following the tornado, told ABC News that he was motivated to help more after hearing a little boy say, “I lost my Christmas,” while visiting a storm shelter. 

“I reached out to my social media, friends and family and said, ‘This is what I’m doing. Please trust me that this is going to happen. Let’s get to work,'” he told the publication.

The former Marine said he had hoped to help 20-30 families, but his social media plea went viral and Triplett received responses from people all over the world. 

MAYFIELD, KY – DECEMBER 11: A sign for the town of Mayfield, Kentucky stands amidst tornado damage on December 11, 2021, in Mayfield, Kentucky. Multiple tornadoes tore through parts of the lower Midwest late on Friday night leaving a large path of destruction and multiple fatalities. 
((Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images))

“It’s really been pretty cool, because I don’t really I don’t speak Japanese or French, so I’ve had to go use Google Translate to reply back to people and just thank them,” he said.

Triplett raised $99,064 in less than 10 days, according to the Go Fund Me page. 

After partnering with Walmart, Triplett and a team of volunteers hand-wrapped thousands of toys for those hardest hit by the tornado.

“Our main event this past week cleaned us out thankfully,” he told Fox News. “Aside from that I’ve been doing secret Santa at the local Walmart letting parents load up shopping carts worth of toys for their kids.”

Triplett said he made sure kids were present with the parents, adding that there was a concern people could abuse the system and return the gifts for cash.

A young boy holds a candle during a vigil in the aftermath of tornadoes that tore through the region several days earlier, in Mayfield, Ky., late Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. 
(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

“But we haven’t seen that,” he said. “I’m still working on collecting and totaling the receipts but we’re looking at around $145,000 spent at Walmart and another $300,000 in donated toys and bikes.”

He and his volunteers have distributed a reported 20,000 toys and counting.

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