BLAUVELT, N.Y. -- The family of a Blauvelt soldier stationed overseas were surprised recently with an early Christmas present – a home patriotically festooned for the holidays.
Joe and Maureen LaPenta, who have five young children, were nominated by a neighbor for a national program that aims to thank members of the military for their service by decorating their homes for free.
Joe LaPenta, a New York City police officer, was deployed to Kuwait not long after his twin sons Joe and Jack were born.
Not only will he be missing their first Christmas, LaPenta, who is expected to remain overseas for nine more months, won’t be home for daughter Emily’s First Communion or daughter Claire’s second birthday. The LaPentas have a third daughter, Maddie.
Acting as the elves last weekend were the folks from Second Nature Lawn Care, a Pearl River franchisee of Christmas Décor, the company behind the Decorated Family Program.
The decorating crew wrapped red, white and blue lights around a tree on the LaPentas’ front lawn, hung huge snowflakes on the house, strung lighted evergreen garlands along the porch railing and put up a red-ribboned wreath on the front door.
The heartwarming surprise was orchestrated by friends of the LaPentas, Meg Sammon and Diana Tarsnane, according to a report by abc7.ny.com.
According to Christmas Décor, there are more than 300,000 American soldiers serving overseas this year, leaving their families alone to handle many challenges, the least of which is preparing for the holidays.
Joe LaPenta told one of Eyewitness News’ reporters via Skype that he was overwhelmed by the support shown to his family and that it had lifted a “burden” off his shoulders. Maureen LaPenta told the reporter that she was “floored” by the surprise, adding that she was not easily shocked.
Santa even popped by to pose with the family so a photo could be sent to LaPenta.