Mr. & Mrs. Claus honor Oklahoma veterans

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EL RENO, Okla. - Larry and Nancy Salsman have spent the last two decades meeting the needs of veterans and their families.

"I was just raised to respect veterans, so that's what we do," Nancy said.

They do A LOT.

The Salsmans' foster a menagerie of pets while military members are deployed.

"Last week, we gave two dogs back to a soldier serving in Kuwait," Nancy said. "He was going to be gone a year. We had his dogs 18 months."

They place flags on veteran's tombstones every Memorial Day and volunteer at VFW Post 382 in El Reno during the holidays.

"I'm Santa Claus," Larry said. "She's the Easter bunny."

It is their devotion to the battle scarred and their loved ones that inspired friends, Kerry Beard and Jamie Gulickson, to nominate them for Pay it 4Ward.

"It's an honor and a blessing to honor them," Beard said.

"What Nancy does is like the Energizer Bunny. She just goes and goes and goes," Gulickson said. "And, she's pretty awesome on everything they volunteer."

First Fidelity Bank's Anthony Wuestenfeld was in on our Pay it 4Ward surprise.

"We just want to thank them for all the things they're doing for the vets. Their work at the VFW as Mr. and Mrs. Claus, such a great thing around Christmas time," Wuestenfeld said. "So, on behalf of First Fidelity Bank, I'd like to Pay it 4Ward to you with $400."

We lured Larry and Nancy to the VFW to surprise our patriotic Pay it 4Ward recipients.

"Y'all deserve it so much," Gulickson told them.

"You're our heroes."

The Salsmans' told us they'll use the money to buy Christmas gifts for needy children.

Last year, they granted 200 Christmas wishes.

"They're not asking for toys," Nancy said. "They want a pillow and blanket. And, when you have a 3-,4-year-old on your lap asking for that, that's tough to take."

But, they will keep on serving our veterans.

They said it is a privilege and an honor.

Pay it 4Ward is sponsored by First Fidelity Bank.

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