Two families have come together to turn grief of their fathers into gifts for others this Christmas. 

Tom Koep and Wally Joos were best friends. The two men were long-time residents of Kanabec County who died just weeks apart from each other due to complications of COVID-19. Koep died Nov. 19 at age 75; Wally died Dec. 1 at age 77. 

Tom’s daughter, Tammy Koep, said both Tom and Wally were amazing husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandpas, great- grandpas and friends to many. 

 After their death, their families wanted both of these extraordinary men to be remembered for their kind, generous, beautiful hearts instead of being just another number or statistic due to the virus. 

The families formed a new non-profit called Tom and Gerri’s Christmas Wish with the mission to provide a bright Christmas to some Kanabec County families.

Money collected was used to buy gifts for others which were delivered the weekend before Christmas. 

“Seeing the excitement (along with the tears of appreciation and joy) from the families when we delivered the gifts, brought tears to my eyes. It brought some comfort and joy to our hearts this Christmas, knowing we were honoring the memories of Tom and Wally, and they were smiling down on us with their pride and approval. Definitely the true meaning of Christmas,” said Tammy. 

The families hope to keep Tom and Gerri’s Christmas Wish going for years to come.

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