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Airmen benefit from Unity, A Journey of Hope's Christmas program

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Unity, a Journey of Hope volunteer David Timko checks a list before mailing out packages to a group of local airmen serving in the Middle East.

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Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013, 9:39 p.m.
 

While Valley residents are opening their Christmas presents today, a group of airmen from the region are opening gifts sent to them from area residents.

Operation Christmas Wish is not new, but this is the first time the benefactors were active duty troops serving overseas.

Operation Christmas Wish was spearheaded by Unity, A Journey of Hope, a nonprofit organization that provides wishes to adults throughout the region, including the Mid-Mon Valley.

Since John and Bobbi Robinson of Vanderbilt established Unity in 2007, the organization has granted many wishes.

Each Christmas, Unity has adopted the family of an adult fighting a life-threatening illness, insuring that their family has a Christmas they could not otherwise afford. Unity buys gifts and dinner for that family.

This year, through Operation Christmas Wish, 21 packages were sent overseas. The recipients were opening their gifts this morning.

“It was done to show support for our troops,” John Robinson said. “We wanted to let them know that back here in the United States we are supporting them on their mission.

“For a lot of these guys it's the first time they've been deployed during the Christmas season,” Robinson said. “We wanted to make that adjustment as easy as possible for them.”

The items were collected at various locations throughout the area, including The Valley Independent.

Items collected included beef jerky, protein bars, socks, baby wipes, cards/letters/international calling cards, shaving cream, liquid soap, deodorant, nuts, sunflowers, gum and candy.

Unity is also providing a Christmas surprise for the families of the airmen.

“Each airman picked a loved one here in the U.S. and picked a certain present for that person,” said Robinson, adding that those gifts were being opened by the family member today from their loved ones overseas.

The airmen were happy to have the gifts from home.

Many expressed thanks to Unity and said the gifts had made a positive difference in their holiday.

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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