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Unity A Journey of Hope care packages headed to airmen in Saudi Arabia

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The founders of a Fayette County nonprofit have launched an initiative to collect donations of food, toiletries and socks to send to 13 area airmen who have been deployed to Saudi Arabia and will remain there through the Christmas holidays.

“We're always try to do something for the troops, especially around Christmas,” said Bobbi Robinson of Vanderbilt, a co-founder of Unity A Journey of Hope, which is conducting Operation Christmas Wish to send the troops gifts for Christmas.

“Anything you receive from home gives you some sort of comfort,” said Robinson, who co-founded Unity A Journey of Hope with her husband, John Robinson. The Vanderbilt-based nonprofit is collecting the items until Dec. 2, at which time they will be packaged and sent to the troops.

The care packages from home “are great for morale,” said Dorothy Benyacko-Carbisiero of New Stanton, the leader of the Family Readiness Group at the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, an Army Reserve unit based in Hempfield Township. Benyacko-Carbisiero has had experience in sending care packages since the 14th Quartermaster Detachment has had several deployments to Iraq.

“It's nice to have the support of the community. ... That means a lot to them,” Benyacko-Carbisiero said.

Unity A Journey of Hope, which has granted wishes to veterans with life-limiting illnesses, is seeking donations of vacuum-packed beef jerky, protein bars, nuts, sunflower seeds, gum and Swedish Fish candy, as well as white or green socks, wet wipes and Axe personal care products – shaving cream, liquid soap and deodorant.

The beef jerky, which is dried beef, is “like gold over there. They (the troops) love it,” Bobbi Robinson said.

The organization also is asking for cards, letters and international telephone calling cards.

“They really appreciate the cards, especially sweet are the ones that come from the kids,” Benyacko-Carbisiero said.

To abide by U.S. Postal Service regulations, the organization is not accepting any pork products or religious items, Bobbi Robinson said.

This is the first year they are taking a collection to send to soldiers who are deployed, said Robinson, who has a family member deployed in the Middle East.

For security purposes, Bobbi Robinson declined to reveal the family member's name, his unit or where he has been deployed.

Some of the airmen who will receive the packages are from Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

“This is just another way Unity is giving back to veterans in our community,” John Robinson said.

To defray the costs of shipping the packages, Unity is accepting monetary donations. Checks can be made payable to Unity A Journey of Hope, Robinson said.

For more information, view the organization's website,; or Facebook page at or

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or