Tracy Kornet CBS 11News | CBSDFW.COM

DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Manual Amaya knew something was up when his family lured him to Valley View Center in Dallas today.

But the Iraq War veteran was not expecting to see Dallas Cowboys player, Jason Witten, walking toward him in the Sears store, with a major surprise for him and his family.

Witten teamed up with the retailer to present the first and grandest giveaway of the holiday season in Sears’ Heroes at Home program.

“It’s so much bigger than being a football player,” said Witten. “You want to recognize that family, and you realize they make so many sacrifices.”

Manuel Amaya served two deployments in Iraq.

Since returning home, his family of five has shared one bedroom in his father’s house. They just recently moved into a home of their own.

“I’m not very religious, but this is nothing but God’s blessing,” explained Amaya. “We just got to the new house. We don’t have much furniture there now. With this gift card, hopefully we’ll fill it up, at least the kids’ rooms.”

The Amaya family may be the first Heroes at Home recipients this year –  but they were actually the second family chosen.

Sears manager Hillene Unangst explained there was another family considered for the event.

“The family graciously and generously said ‘you know what? We know of another family who needs this more than us’.”

It’s a sentiment Manual Amaya shared as well.

“We’ve been given too much,” Amaya explained, choking back tears. “And sometimes it feels like too much. There are other people who need it more.”

You can donate to the Heroes at Home program in Sears stores and on-line at

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