New Castle News

TOP STORIES

August 31, 2013

Appreciative soldier makes special delivery

NEW CASTLE — Army Sgt. Matthew Johnston decided that a package he received in Afghanistan would require a personal response.

“People send all sorts of wonderful things, but this one was special because of where it came from,” said Johnston, who returned to the United States last month and is now stationed at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Wash.

The box that Johnston opened was sent by Operation Lifeline and had the name of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Cabot, Pa. printed on it. The son of two Lawrence County high school graduates,  Johnston knew it wasn’t far from New Castle, where he’d spent many summers of his youth visiting grandparents.

“It really helps when something connects you with home,” he said.

What he found inside the box sealed the deal. An apple cutout card covered with glitter and a handwritten message that said “Jesus Loves You” from 10-year-old Sabrina Sutej of Butler touched his heart. Sabrina made the card and sent it off to an unknown soldier as part of a St. Luke’s Sunday School project, never expecting to hear from the one who received it.

“Since she was so close to where my mom lives I knew I would find her,” said Johnston, who did just that last week at an area restaurant.

With help from his mother, Barb Brown Johnston, and Ann Houk of New Castle, co-chair of the local Operation Lifeline project, Johnston was able to surprise Sabrina. St. Luke’s is one the area’s churches that participate in the program.

“Mom and Ann did all the footwork for this while I was in Afghanistan,” Johnston said.

Johnston, his wife and their three children spent several days in New Castle, culminating with meeting Sabrina, a fifth grader at South Butler Intermediate School.

Johnston said receiving packages is uplifting to soldiers. He said when boxes of fudge arrived a few months ago, “Everybody was walking around pretty happy that day.”

Johnston presented Sabrina with his nametag along with military badges and pins he had received.

“She hasn’t quite grasped the magnitude of what was given her,” said Shanna Sutej, Sabrina’s mother. “As she grows older, I think those things will become even more special.”

Sabrina was told she would be meeting a soldier, but had no idea it would be the one who received her card.

Johnston arrived in his full dress blues. When everyone was seated, Johnston displayed the apple card that Sabrina had signed and thanked her for sending it.

“I kept it with me,” said Johnston, who put Sabrina’s card in his locker. But when handling it, the glitter she’d applied came off everywhere.

Johnston said his buddies called him the “most fashionable soldier in Afghanistan.”

Operation Lifeline, which has sent hundreds of packages filled with dry drink mixes, fudge, candy and other items, is an outreach ministry of Christ Lutheran Church, 1302 E. Washington St.

Johnston, a senior medic for Bravo Company 4-9 Infantry, was born in Butler before moving to Athens, Tax., where he attended school. He still has many relatives in New Castle. His late father, Robert, was a graduate of Shenango High, while his mother, the former Barb Brown, graduated from Laurel High in 1973.

“Soldiers seldom get an opportunity to thank a person directly for sending a gift,” Johnston said. “I’m glad I was able to do that.”

(Email: d_burcham@ncnewsonline.com)

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
TOP STORIES
  • Bobby_Ferrara.jpg Ferrara comes home after life in the ring

    Former New Castle resident Bob Ferrara has spent much of his 77 years inside a boxing ring. A Pittsburgh Golden Gloves champion in 1958, Ferrara — who was known then as Bobby Ferry — continued to find success long after leaving his hometown for the sunny skies of Tucson, Ariz.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • VerySpecial.jpg Jameson Hoyt Atrium display spotlights artwork of special needs kids and adults

    Artwork from dozens of area students will take center stage Thursday in the Hoyt Atrium of Jameson Hospital. The Very Special Arts exhibit will kick off with an opening reception at 5 p.m., and the works will remain on display in the glass-enclosed walkway through Oct. 4.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • DougDanko.jpg Census shows county population getting older

    Lawrence County’s population continues to get older. However, it is not alone, as Pennsylvania overall is aging.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • backpackproject.jpg Councilman picks up tab to help lunch program

    Participants of a local summer feeding program are eating this week courtesy of New Castle City Councilman Tim Fulkerson. On Friday morning, the truck dispatched from New Castle to pick up about 3,500 pounds of items from the Pittsburgh Food Bank broke down as it arrived at its destination.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CRESTVIEW.jpg Outreach: Churches plan to host picnic for residents of Crestview Gardens

    Volunteers from several area churches are banding together in hopes of bringing peace to a troubled neighborhood.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • money.jpg Council OKs funds to remove dead trees

    New Castle City Council has approved spending funds from its contingency account to remove some trees at Darlington Park. Marshall Tree Experts of Ellwood City has given an estimate of $12,000 to remove the large elm trees from the Mahoningtown park.

     
     

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • 12.jpg Photo Gallery, Story: Night light

    The balloons may have been on the ground but spirits were soaring.

     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 1 Slideshow

  • StateFair.jpg 'State Fair' coming to Playhouse

    The fair is coming to town. No, not the Lawrence County Fair, although that is right around the corner. This is the Iowa State Fair, and it will be live on the stage of the New Castle Playhouse for three weeks, starting Friday night.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • accountant.jpg DeLorenzo’s status with authority unchanged

    Deno DeLorenzo’s status as a contract employee with the New Castle Sanitation Authority remains unchanged. Authority board members met with DeLorenzo last week regarding an investigation by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office involving Shenango Township funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Shooting.jpg Detroit area man dies in Ellwood City gunfire

    A triple shooting in an Ellwood City street has claimed the life of a Detroit area man. Gunfire erupted in the middle of Loop Street outside the Walnut Ridge housing project around 10:20 p.m. Sunday, according to state police.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for allegedly overstepping his legal authority with the way he's handled Obamacare. Good call?

Yes. Obama's been overstepping his authority since day one in office. It's time he pay the piper.
No. The allegations are ridiculous and the law suit is a waste of time and tax payer money.
I don't know. I'm not a huge fan of Obama, but the suit seems a little extreme.
     View Results