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Gold Star family gifted mortgage-free home just in time for Christmas

A Brunswick County Gold Star family received a new home, mortgage-free, just in time for...
A Brunswick County Gold Star family received a new home, mortgage-free, just in time for Christmas.(WECT)
Updated: Dec. 16, 2019 at 6:06 PM EST
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LELAND, N.C. (WECT) - For Brandy Carver-Smithey, southeastern North Carolina is an emotionally charged area.

Now, it is once again home.

She and United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Ross Carver both graduated from E.A. Laney High School. In 2008, they got married, and had their son William in March of 2010.

Just five months later, Carver was killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan. He was just 21 years old.

Nine years and three months since, Carver-Smithey walked into a brand new, mortgage-free home — a gift from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

“This is our second chance to prove, not just to everyone in the world, but to prove to ourselves, life is hard but there are still people out there that really really care,” said Carver-Smithey.

She now has three children — all of whom were excited to have their own rooms and the space to host their friends for sleepovers.

Carver-Smithey was excited about her new kitchen, saying she’s excited to entertain her family in the area over the Christmas holiday.

However, she said the foundation’s honoring of her late husband’s memory means even more than the new spaces.

“It’s not just about homes that they [the foundation] give," she said. “It’s about the remembrance of our loved ones. They show that they care, that they want to remember, that they want everybody to remember, and a lot of people, they don’t.”

Many, she said, will thank her family and veterans for their service, but that’s as far as they go.

“It’s not like that with them,” she said.

The emotional day marks the 16th of the foundation’s Season of Hope — an initiative where they are presenting a new home to a gold star family every day in December until Christmas Eve.

Carver-Smithey says being back in the area will give her the chance to show her son where she and his father met and grew up and also start a new life.

She credits the foundation with her ability to earn a degree in early childhood education — a field in which she’s now pursuing a master’s degree.

“Tunnels to Towers gave us that opportunity. They allowed me graduate without having to worry about a mortgage, without having to worry about having to pay rent," she said.

"I can literally sit behind my computer and do my schoolwork and graduate and show my kids, look life is hard, there are pads that you can’t, but that word is no longer in our vocabulary. That word ‘can’t,’ it’s not there anymore, it’s ‘you can,’ ‘you will,’ and that is what Tunnel to Towers is about.”

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