OGDEN — It began with a simple Facebook posting by a thoughtful, colorful Army medic who wanted to be Santa for a 6-year-old girl he'd never met.
Cole Naisbitt, 30, didn't have children of his own, but he wanted to spend $300 of his own money to buy some cool stuff for a needy child — not just "toothpaste and shoes," in his words.
So he posted a call for ideas on his Facebook page.
The next day, he was found shot to death in Killeen, Texas, a few miles from Fort Hood where he was stationed. He was two weeks away from coming home for the holidays.
Meg Naisbitt, his aunt, said grieving friends sprang into action, determined to carry on his wishes.
"It was the last thing he had posted on Facebook; it was what his friends wanted to do," she said.
The Naisbitt family knows well the rallying strength of a community that rushes into help when grief has struck. It was in 1974 when Carol Naisbitt, the grand-aunt of Cole, and her son, Courtney, unwittingly interrupted a robbery at the Hi-Fi stereo shop in Ogden. Carol Naisbitt was brutally murdered, along with two other people. Courtney miraculously survived but would die years later related to the injuries he suffered.
So it just seemed so unfair when a fresh burst of grief surrounded the Naisbitt family with yet another violent death. Cole was simply driving back from a 7-Eleven with a friend on Nov. 20 when another motorist motioned for him to pull over. When he did, the assailant shot him once in the head.
"I'm devasted by it," said his father, Jed Naisbitt Sr., at the time. "The thing is, it is never going to be OK with myself and the family."
Friends coming to grips with their loss saw the Facebook posting, and from there created a new page called "Remembering Cole Naisbitt."
They tried to find the 6-year-old girl, with no luck, so instead turned to the Family Support Center of Ogden and the Utah Foster Foundation.
Toting a list of Christmas wishes for needy children, the friends posted it on the remembrance page — and the gifts started pouring in, fulfilling and delivering 45 gifts.
Similar service to others took place at the soldier's funeral, where Meg Naisbitt said the family opted to donate money to the Children's Justice Center that serves child victims of abuse and sex crimes instead of buying floral arrangements.
At a celebration party of Cole Nasibitt's life, the medic who had served two tours in Iraq was honored by his friends who set up a collection box for money and gifts for needy children.
"He was really affected by the children in Iraq. He loved little kids," Meg Naisbitt said.
There have been no answers in the death of Cole Naisbitt, but if anyone asks if his last wish was fulfilled, that answer has been loud and clear.
"I think," says Meg Naisbitt, "that his dad and the family has been pretty touched by all the things that have gone on."