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Family makes life brighter for neighbors

PORT MARION — Life is a little brighter for many, thanks to a Point Marion family whose hearts are filled with compassion for others.

Whether helping a community group or leading their own project, Brandi and Gary Newman and their sons Gary Jr., 13, and Logan, 11, have been helping Point Marion in many ways, including volunteering at a spring clean up on the Sheepskin Trail, raising funds for the Sheepskin Trail Festival, delivering gift bags to the elderly and organizing December events that included a Kids Crafts and Snacks afternoon.

That’s in addition to providing for individuals who come to the Newmans privately.

“They’re all wonderful,” said friend Samantha Edgell, of Springhill Township. “Brandi is one of the sweetest women I’ve ever met. She would help anybody without giving it a second thought. I wish I could be more like her.”

“She is always coming up with really good ideas and makes time to volunteer,” said Tomi Kirk, of Point Marion, Sheepskin Trail Festival chair. “I would have her on my team any day – the whole family. They’re a good example of doing it as a family, getting everyone involved.”

Brandi acknowledged: “I take on too much sometimes but I figure it out. To see people smiling, that’s why we do it.”

Brandi grew up in Carmichaels and Gary in McClellandtown. Since coming to Point Marion four years ago, the family has become involved in the community. Brandi volunteers at the United Methodist Church’s monthly food pantry and rings bells for the Salvation Army. Last Christmas, the Newmans donated candy canes to AG South Middle School and toys to the school’s charity drive.

But then they began organizing events such as giving away 25 Easter baskets for local children and donating five turkeys and fixings to families for Thanksgiving.

In October, they invited area youths to help them take a wagon with 80 gift bags filled with items like coffee, tea, tissues, snacks, socks, hats and body care items house to house to senior citizens.

“To see the people get something unexpected was amazing,” said Brandi, who gathered names by talking to people in town and still keeps in touch with many families.

The Newmans wanted youths to have something to do so they organized the Kids Crafts and Snacks, hosting the free event at First Baptist Church for 50 youths and their families in early December.

Youths decorated ornaments and gingerbread men, wrote letters to Santa and played games while there were door prizes for adults. Children also received hats and gloves.

“We had a great turnout,” said Brandi. “A lot of people stepped forward offering help. It was unbelievable.”

The Newmans realize community events also help families who may not have the means to attend those in other areas.

“We’re trying to bring in as much as we can without hurting people’s pockets because it’s hard enough raising kids and working,” said Brandi, noting, “After you pay your bills and try to put food on your table – just knowing people in this community are struggling to even have food, it bothers me and I can’t walk away from that. If I’m over my head, I’m still going in.”

The Newmans pay for many of their good deeds but Brandi expressed thanks to those who offer help, including Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 747, First Baptist Church, Family Dollar managers Angela Kennedy and Kimberly Cogar and Riverside Family Market as well as individuals in the community.

Brandi posts photographs and information on Facebook’s events pages, such as Christmas in Point Marion, which included an Angel Tree organized in partnership with Family Dollar.

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