Family of WWII veteran replaces stolen money, sends military family on cruise

Posted at 7:25 PM, Dec 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-06 22:25:29-05

SAN DIEGO - A nonprofit's funding that was meant to help a military family celebrate the holiday season was stolen, but the family of a World War II veteran came to the organization's aid.

Time has been running out for Brat Pack 11, the nonprofit that raises money to help military "brats" forget about their sacrifice and just have fun. This year, they planned to send the family of an injured soldier on an all-expenses paid Disney cruise.

However, a big chunk of the money that was raised through a charity golf outing in Ohio never made it into Brat Pack 11 coffers. The checks and money orders were mailed, but they never arrived, said Brat Pack 11's founder Kenzie Hall.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service confirmed it is investigating the theft, which Hall and her mother believe happened somewhere near their home in Murrieta.

Someone wrote the name Chuck Lamb above where the money orders -- worth $1,600 -- were made out to Brat Pack 11. Someone then cashed them.

Team 10 aired a story about the theft investigation last week. Within days, Hall said she was contacted by the daughter of a former WWII pilot. She wanted to donate the cost of the entire cruise in the memory of her parents.

Herb Sawinski was 90 years old when he died May 30, just 20 days after his wife of 60 years, Bonnie, passed away.

Sawinski was a Marine who went to boot camp in San Diego. He later became a journalist. His wife was an artist.

Sawinski's daughter told Hall she donated the trip "to have my parent's memory recognized and their caring and generosity honored."

She asked Team 10 not to publish her name.

Hall said she's already deposited the $6,000 check, and told the mother of the family of four that the Disney cruise is on.

"They're going to open up the tickets on Christmas Day," said Hall.

She added, "It means a lot that somebody was compelled enough to help out, and now this family just gets to be a family and the kids only have to worry about being kids on this vacation, so it's really exciting."

Hall said if the stolen money is recovered, it will be used to grant the wish of another military family.