It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas for a man from Arab. He's one of 150 people from across the country chosen to decorate the White House for the holidays.
"It's kind of like winning the lottery, except this is better," Randy Harwood said.
"I didn't think it was going to happen this year. I really didn't."
But, Christmas came early! He received a letter last Friday saying he was chosen from the thousands of applications.
"Oh my gosh! I got chill bumps all over! I was like 'No! This isn't happening! This isn't real!' I got so excited," he said.
Harwood says he loves Christmas. He's been collecting ornaments for 20 years and even helps his friends decorate their own houses. So, when he learned the White House was taking applications for volunteer decorators this season, he knew he had to apply.
"Coming from my point of view, it was another way for me to serve my country," he said.
Harwood retired from the Army National Guard four years ago after serving for more than two decades, but he says the desire to serve never left.
"Kind of feeling like, 'What do I do now?' When I saw this opportunity and when I applied, I was like, you know, this is not going to happen, but if it does by some sort of unbelievable miracle that they select me, I feel like I'm back there serving where I was, serving in the same capacity," Harwood said.
Harwood was selected from thousands of applicants across the country. In fact, so many people applied, the White House was late in sending out the acceptance letters. His, addressed from the White House Visitor's Office, doesn't say much, but to Randy, it's his Christmas miracle.
"I consider it an honor to serve my country in some way. There are some people that are like, 'Well, you're just going to decorate a Christmas tree. What's the big deal?' Well, it is a big deal to me, because being able to serve in the military for so long and being able to continue doing something for my country means a lot to me. I don't care if it is decorating a tree," he said.
Harwood and his family will head to Washington D.C. Thanksgiving week. On that Monday, there will be a reception where they will get a chance to meet the first lady. Because it is a volunteer program, he'll cover all his expenses.
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