LAKE ELSINORE ( — A local military family struggling to make ends meet has received the gift of a lifetime – the keys to a newly renovated home in Lake Elsinore.

Walking up to the residence Saturday, the Bawdens thought they were one of many military families still in the running to make the three bedroom, three bathroom their new home, mortgage free.

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“I came here hopeful but I didn’t know,” Carol Bawden said.

Carol and her husband, Marine Corps veteran Michael Bawden, were in for quite the surprise when just moments later, with bikes roaring, a group of military veterans pulled up to give a very special color guard presentation and then handed them the keys.

“That was very surprising, I was very amazed by that,” Michael said.

Michael joined the Marine Corps in 2003, inspired to help the fight against terrorism. But during his eight years of service he suffered a brain injury, and was honorably discharged in 2011.

He and his wife share three daughters and have baby girl on the way. They’ve been living with Carol’s parents to make ends meet – until this weekend.

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“We love it. I’m a little speechless but we love it,” Carol said.

The home was donated by Bank of America to non-profit HomeStrong USA, an organization which fixes up homes and gives them to military families in need.

The Bawdens are the 12th military family this year to receive a home completely mortgage-free from HomeStrong, whose CEO, Jed Davis, says he wishes they could do even more.

“Although we can’t repay all our veterans for their sacrifices, at least we can honor them,” Davis said.

The Bawdens were also given gift certificates and a giant check for $15,000 to use towards education – a big thank you to a Marine who now has a place for his growing family to call home.

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“I’m really shocked still,” Michael said.