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A birthday wish for the soldiers

Seven-year-old Jacob Fleming of Alexandria asked for special presents for his 7th birthday - food and personal items that could be sent to soldiers in Afghanistan. Contributed photo.1 / 2
Jacob Fleming (center) and his birthday party guests displayed all the "gifts" that will be sent to soldiers in Afghanistan. Contributed photo.2 / 2

Jacob Fleming of Alexandria knew exactly what he wanted for his 7th birthday - items that he could "re-gift."

"We have lots of toys already," the boy said of himself and his three brothers. "I wanted to give [my presents] away."

He also knew who he wanted to give them to.

"Nick's dad and the soldiers!" he said of his friend's father, Nathan Borden, who was scheduled to go to Afghanistan.

Brian and Cindy Fleming have watched their son go through a lot in the past couple of years. He was diagnosed with a rare metabolic disorder and has undergone numerous hospitalizations

According to Cindy, this has given him a different perspective than the typical 7-year-old

"He came up with this on his own," she said of her son, a 1st grader at St. Mary's School in Alexandria. "You just never know what's gonna happen with him. He's a special kid."

So when Jacob invited his friends to his birthday party in October, he asked them to bring food and personal items that could be sent to the soldiers in Afghanistan.

They all obliged, as did his family members, and he quickly accumulated a large pile of items to give away.

'I got socks, beef jerky, hard candy, gum...," Jacob said of his birthday gifts. "I am giving all my presents to Nick's dad!"

The birthday boy did receive a couple special gifts just for him: "A monkey and some Legos!" he said.

Although Jacob's birthday was October 12, he's been saving the items to send after Borden left for Afghanistan. The soldier departed on January 3, and the items have been packed into boxes - eight in all - and are now ready to ship.

When asked what he thought the soldiers would think when they receive his gift, Jacob replied, "I think they are gonna be happy. I feel happy."

Follow #AlexMN @EchoPress Life Editor Tara Bitzan on Twitter at @TBitzan.

Tara Bitzan

Tara Bitzan is editor of the Echo Press. She joined the company in 1991 as a news reporter. A lifelong resident of Douglas County, Tara graduated from Brandon High School and earned a bachelor of arts degree in mass communications and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She and her husband, Dennis, and their children live near Alexandria.

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