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Brownstown VFW post reaching out to veterans

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By Panzi Blackwell

This week’s Fayette Faces is the third in the theme of “Unwrapped Gifts.” Probably the most precious of all gifts are not wrapped in pretty paper and ribbons. Rather, they are wrapped with the warmth and caring love of the heart of the giver(s) … and that is what these stories are about.
This week, it is about many people working together to make life a little better for those who have already given for others – our veterans – in the VA hospitals and also those who are homeless.
The Brownstown Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 9770 recently sponsored a clothing drive to help gather needed clothing for residents of veterans’ hospitals. Robyn Pontious, a member of Post #9770, consented to share the story … again, a story of unwrapped gifts, precious and appreciated by the recipient.
The Thoughtfulness Put into Action
Robyn, who served in the Navy in Bahrain, said, “The Brownstown VFW Post sponsored the clothing drive to assist the veterans residing in the Marion VA Hospital.
“Members of the post asked for donations of brand new clothing, items such as sweatpants, sweatshirts, undershirts, socks and underwear. Fliers were handed out and drop boxes were placed inside of several local businesses,” she said.
A bake sale and other fundraisers were held to raise money for the drive. After speaking to VA officials, post members learned that there was also a need for used clothing as well.
“So members starting taking up collections of used clothing as well, and also began to ask for clothing for women veterans as well, as they are also an important part of the group that the post was supporting,” she said.
“After several weeks of fundraising, the post collected more than $1,500 in cash donations and several hundreds of dollars worth of clothing,” she said.
Many Giving Hearts and Hands Involved
The project sponsored by the Brownstown VFW also received donations  from other areas as the word spread. Robyn gave credit to others.
“The post received outstanding community support,” she said.
On Nov. 10, VFW members Dan Fruitiger, Jim Rine and Robyn Pontious, along with Kelly Washburn and Dorothy Koonce, delivered the collected items to the Marion VA Hospital.
And ‘The Cup Runneth Over’
The post members met with Sylvia Jackson, chief of voluntary service at the hospital, and presented her with a check. The post had gathered so many donations that they not only were able to help those residing in the VA Hospitals, but were also able to help homeless veterans as well.
New clothing items, such as sweatpants, sweatshirts and socks, etc., can always be used by the hospitals. Used items can be passed onto the homeless shelter in the area.
“Anyone wishing to make donations can contact any member of the post, and we will make sure the items get to where they are needed,” Robyn said.
“We were all so grateful for the support we received doing the clothing drive. The amount of money and clothing we received exceeded our expectations,” she said.
“We were thrilled to be able to give back to those who have served with us, before us and even after us. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we, with the help from the community, were able to make someone’s life a little better,” Robyn said.
…And An Unassuming Manner
While Robyn took no personal credit for the clothing drive, other sources came forward with comments about this very special, modest, young lady.
For the clothing drive, she was presented with a framed certificate of achievement with the words, “For meritorious and distinguished service in furthering the aim and ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States of America.” Appreciation was voiced in an accompanying speech, complimenting her actions for “digging in” and working for the project.
At the VFW district meeting in November, she was named the 12th District chairwoman of the Honor Flights. This was not only a great honor, but also a challenge. The 12th District includes 23 VFW posts of surrounding areas.
Robyn has been a big supporter and volunteer guardian for World War II veterans traveling on the Honor Flights. When not on a flight as a guardian, she is present at the station as the veterans return from the Honor Flight trip.
Robyn Pontious, her fellow VFW Post # 9770 members and all who give from the heart,  have given (and are giving) many “unwrapped gifts” to others through their caring hearts and volunteered time – a year-round Christmas spirit.