Saturday, December 24, 2016

Kindness Melted Gulf War Veteran's Heart For Christmas

Veteran's family gets surprise
The Daily Item
By Justin Strawser
December 24, 2016
“There’s a lot of love in every package there,” DeFacis said.
Justin Strawser The Daily Item
Ray DeFacis, left, one of Santa's helpers in Sunbury and the co-founder of Santa's Miracle Gift of Giving, delivers presents to Anthony and Regina Fera, of Shamokin, on Friday morning.
SHAMOKIN —Anthony Fera and Ray DeFacis embraced Friday afternoon, tears in both their eyes, at the Chestnut Street home in Shamokin. Moments before, DeFacis and other volunteers dropped off dozens of presents to the Fera family of eight.

Fera, 41, a disabled Gulf War veteran who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, said the gesture from DeFacis and the Santa’s Miracle Gift of Giving to him, his wife and six children inspired him and melted his frozen heart.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve been bitter and becoming hard,” Fera said. “This renewed and rebirthed my giving spirit.”

DeFacis, who plays Santa Claus in Sunbury, is the co-founder of Santa’s Miracle Gift of Giving, a program that provides gifts and food for families across the Valley. The Fera family was one of four families who received a delivery from Santa and his helpers on Friday.

Fera and his wife, Regina Fera, 36, have one income and are raising six children: Joslynn, 14; Gabriel, 10; Joshua, 8; Leah-Marie, 6; Hannah, 4; and Autumn-Rose, 2. The family has two dogs: Snowball, a 4-year-old English golden retriever, and Athena, a 10-month-old English mastiff.

Regina Fera is a stay-at-home mother while her husband is a painter for a sub-contracting business, but work is slow in the winter months. Anthony Fera also experiences Post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety issues from combat, hearing loss from working with explosives during the war and is constant pain due to injuries from his current career. He does receive some benefits from the VA, but it’s not enough.
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