Community rallies to support injured Marine
FLORENCE -- Retired Staff Sgt. Andrew Robinson rallied to rehabilitate himself from injuries sustained as a Marine in Iraq. Now, his community is rallying to support him.
Yesterday, Homes for our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans, held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Robinson's future home on E. Fifth Street in Florence.
Robinson was injured in June 2006 while embarking on a mission to collect information about a group of insurgents responsible for planting Improvised Explosive Devices that were killing American troops. Robinson's vehicle was attacked and he sustained compound fractures to his lower legs, collapsed lungs and fractured vertebra that left him paralyzed from the chest down with partial paralysis in his arms.
Robinson, 25, a North Hanover native, and his wife, Sara, whose family resides in Roebling, have been living in Southern California near where he was stationed before his deployment to Iraq.
Yesterday, the Robinsons had their first glimpse of the lot that will be their future home and they weren't alone. Hundreds of family, friends and neighbors were also in attendance.
"This was insane how much support we received," Robinson said. "It's incredible that this organization is going to build us a house for free. And to have a house built right here in this great community is just amazing."
Robinson's house will be the third built by Homes for our Troops in New Jersey since the organization was founded in 2004 and the first in Burlington County. Homes for Our Troops was not alone in the effort.
The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund donated $50,000 towards the completion of the house and Kojeski Construction, a company based in Voorhees, has volunteered its services to oversee the project.
H.E.A.R.T. 9/11, a group comprised of veteran police officers, firefighters, construction trade union workers and surviving families of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001, will also provide volunteer laborers.
"This is an awesome project," said Charles Kojeski, president of Kojeski Construction and a Medford resident. "It's great to be working with all these people and be involved in something like this. I was so happy to see all the subcontractors get involved so fast as well. Businesses are hurting, but everyone jumped on board."
With construction set to get under way in a few weeks, the Robinsons should be moving into their new home by winter.
"Although Sara and I are enjoying the weather in Southern California, we are looking forward to returning home," Robinson said. "It will be just in time for a nice cold New Jersey winter."