By Ron Matz

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It was an early Christmas for a very special group of men and women in Baltimore. Santa’s elves made a stop with gifts for veterans from our area.

Ron Matz has more on those who served and the volunteers who are helping them enjoy the holiday season.

The Fort Dix army band was part of the happy holiday celebration at the VA Medical Center downtown.

Volunteers handed out holiday gift bags to patients.

“I’ve been here since yesterday with some chest pains,” said Maynard Bradley, U.S. Army veteran. “I was hoping to get to see the family, but this is a blessing in itself right here. Praise God for this.”

“My dad was Navy 23 years. My husband was Army for 20 years. A lot of families and a lot of guys have been through a lot, and it’s time for us to give back to them,” said Theresa Smith, volunteer.

It was an early Christmas present for those who served.

“We need each other. It’s that simple. Thank God for the opportunity to serve the country and most of all to encourage others to do likewise,” said Eric Dennis, Vietnam veteran.

Volunteer Suzanne Earing made the yuletide bright.

“Today is very special. Today is a great way to thank our veterans, to pay it forward and let them know how much we care about them,” Earing said.

Each bag contains about $70 worth of gifts all donated by various veterans service organizations.

“Got some toiletries, some game stuff. I got a blanket, some sunglasses and some headphones, which is pretty cool,” Bradley said.

Holiday gift bags were also handed out Tuesday at the veterans facilities at Perry Point and Loch Raven.

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