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Miracles Worked By "Heroes At Home"

Christmas came early this year for the Vanderwerts, of New Prague, Minn., thanks to a national program that reaches out to help military families.

As CBS News correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports, Jon Vanderwert's National Guard unit was sent to Iraq in August. It's his second combat tour.

But his family was left to cope with a house badly in need of repair.

His departure forced the postponement for a year of his plans to rehab the fixer-upper he and wife Blake bought for their large family.

"I didn't know what to do, where to turn, who to talk to," Blake told Bowers.

There was so little insulation, the kitchen felt almost as cold to their 12-year-old son, Michael, as the weather outside.

"I have this big cup," Michael says, "and I was filling it with water, and I set it down in the sink . . . and about five minutes later, I come in the kitchen and the water was frozen."

But volunteers beat the Minnesota winter to the punch.

Blake reached out to the non-profit "Rebuilding Together," whose Twin Cities executive director, Kathy Greiner, brought together volunteers who are the heart and soul of their community.

"I don't even have words for it," Greiner says. "Every time we turn around, someone is coming up to us, offering donations."

Local companies pitched in with electrical work, lumber, insulation, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and appliances.

Blake hasn't had to write a check yet.

Rebuilding Together's Web site explains that it works in conjunction with "Heroes at Home."

The site says, "Heroes at Home is a program of Sears Holdings in partnership with Rebuilding Together, the nation's largest volunteer-based provider of home repair services. Heroes at Home assists the families of military personnel and veterans by providing critical repairs and renovations for their homes, such as modifications necessary for disabled veterans. Founded in 1988, Rebuilding Together has rehabilitated 105,020 homes and nonprofit facilities, involving 2.5 million volunteers committing to 24 million hours of volunteer time."

Blake told Bowers Heroes at Home "basically saved our family."

New Prague Mayor Bink Bender marvels, "It's an absolutely good example of where I think many hands working together end up creating a miracle -- for this family, for sure."

All Blake wanted was a little help with heating, some sheetrock and a bathroom door but, Points out Bowers, she'll end up pretty much with a completely renovated house.

"All of my wishes, basically, have come true," Blake says.

The Vanderwerts hope to move into their cozy home after New Year's Day.

To find out more about "Heroes at Home" and "Rebuilding Together," and to make a donation, click here.