NORTH OGDEN — A local company, with help from anonymous donors, made Christmas a little brighter this year for the Taylor family.
Brent Taylor, a 39-year-old husband and father of seven young children, a Utah National Guardsman and mayor of North Ogden was killed in a Nov. 3 attack in Afghanistan.
He was serving his fourth deployment — his second to Afghanistan — that began in January and was expected to end before the holidays. His family had no idea they would be spending Christmas without him.
Wednesday's surprise of new Christmas lights and other festive decorations on the house, said family friend Toby Mileski, "will be much appreciated."
"The kids were getting excited and have been talking about what they were going to put up this year," he said, adding that the young Taylor children, ages 1 to 13, had no idea someone else was going to fulfil their wishes.
"I hope it lightens their spirits and gives them some joy this Christmas season, because they've got a lot of pain going on right now," said Craig Mitton, president of Ben Lomond Landscape Maintenance, a local franchise of Christmas Decor, that put up the decorations in frigid temperatures on Wednesday.
Mitton was contacted by the national Decorated Family Program, which works to "boost spirits and spread cheer for military families across the country.”
The Taylor home, on 3100 North, is decked with yellow ribbons and already had red, white and blue lights put up by a thoughtful neighbor. Christmas Decor added red and green across the rooftop and lit up each window with white.
The company hung a wreath and boughs of pine, helping the home to feel more merry.
"Christmas is a special time for children," Mitton said, hoping the children approve of their installment, which took three workers about four hours to complete on Wednesday.
"We're excited to do it," Mitton said. "We're sorry what happened to him. We're very, very sorry it happened."
Brent Taylor was laid to rest with full military honors at the Ben Lomond Cemetery on Nov. 17 following a funeral service attended by thousands at Weber State University's Dee Events Center and a formal procession. He was remembered for his profound dedication to God, to his family and to his country.
More than $550,000 has been contributed to the family — Brent Taylor's wife and kids — through online fundraising campaigns*, gathering support from donors all over the world. With it, his wife has vowed to continue her husband's legacy of community, patriotic and family service, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
"His life will not have been lost in vain, his blood is not spilled in vain," said Jennie Taylor. "I will dedicate the rest of my life on this earth to making sure that does not happen."
The widow, understandably, said she is still grappling with the shock of her husband's death and trying to figure out what comes next.
"They are coping as best as you could cope in a situation like this," Mileski told the Deseret News. He said the outpouring of community support has been "outstanding."
"You couldn't have asked for any more support for the family," he said. "People have gone above and beyond to help in so many ways."
He was most excited for the kids to see their newly decorated home. He said the fact that it was donated, too, "makes it even sweeter."
Hundreds of Christmas Decor franchises across 300 markets in 49 states participate in the Decorated Family Program by donating products, resources and time to decorate the homes of local military families. This is the organization's 16th year of surprising military families.
"We know the holidays can be hard on families who have lost loved ones serving overseas," said Christmas Decor President Brandon Stephens. He said each reveal is "special and heartwarming."
Families are nominated and selected based on their circumstances. Visit ChristmasDecor.net for more information.
*KSL.com does not assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.