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Veterans Receive Christmas Surprise

AG U.S. Missions motorcycle chaplain couple, Dave and Brenda Pantelo, heard of a need at a veterans facility — and met it!

They’re old, many are restricted to wheelchairs or walkers, they require long-term skilled nursing care, and what too often is forgotten, they’re heroes. 

The 200 veterans who live at the Mount Vernon (Missouri) Veterans Home have fought countless battles, many have endured extreme hardships, and all have devoted at least a portion of their lives defending America’s freedom. However, whether it is dementia or disability, these men and women do not have an easy path before them. 

Recently, David and Brenda Pantleo, who are U.S. missionary motorcycle chaplains through AG U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries, were told of a need veterans at the Mount Vernon home were experiencing. 

“There are 200 residents, 186 men and 14 women who are living and receiving care there,” David says. “Some of the basic daily needs they have are shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, lotion, and microwave popcorn. But one important need for the men was an electric razor. The home only had five electric razors to share with the 186 men who live there!” 

Working with American Legion Riders from Post 639 and sharing the need with the community, churches, and individuals around the country in person and through social media, Brenda spearheaded raising the funds in time to surprise the veterans with an early Christmas present. 

“We raised the necessary funds — nearly $6,500 — to purchase 186 electric razors, 200 body washes, 200 toothbrushes w/holders, 200 lotions, and 200 bags of candy to be given in gift bags to the residents,” David says.  

“It is important that the veterans who served our country with distinction not be forgotten,” says Manuel Cordero, senior director of Chaplaincy Ministries. “Society may forget them, but God never does.” 

On Dec. 15, David, Brenda, a minister friend, and three members from American Legion Post 639 presented the gift bags to the veterans, going room-to-room delivering the bags and engaging the veterans in friendly conversation. 

“One gentleman couldn't believe we would bring him a gift bag,” David shares. “When he found the razor inside, he was so excited and kept thanking us. We later saw him in the main hallway as we were coming out of a different unit. He stopped us to tell us he had his razor charging so he could use it!” 

Cordero strongly endorses the Pantleo’s efforts, observing that all veterans, the aged as well as those returning from war with physical, mental, relational, and emotional challenges need to have someone minister to them. “When we minister to these our brothers and sisters, we have done it unto Christ,” he says.

Dan Van Veen

Dan Van Veen is news editor of AG News. Prior to transitioning to AG News in 2001, Van Veen served as managing editor of AG U.S. Missions American Horizon magazine for five years. He attends Central Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri, where he and his wife, Lori, teach preschool Sunday School and 4- and 5-year-old Rainbows boys and girls on Wednesdays.