By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A brother and sister, both students at a Richfield high school, got a special surprise just in time for the holidays.

The freshman and sophomore were convinced they would not be spending Christmas with their older sister, who is in the U.S. Navy.

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But with the help of staff at Academy Of Holy Angels, she was able to pull off a Christmas miracle.

The school sing-a-long is a holiday tradition at Holy Angels. While students concentrate on spreading holiday cheer, two in the crowd were thinking about a special person who they did not expect to see for the holidays.

“Probably need a big surprise for Christmas, so can I have Martu and Thomas Zabinski come down please,” Principal Heidi Foley said.

The siblings had no idea what was going on, until their sister, Emma, appeared from around the corner.

“I really had no idea what it was because I didn’t ask for anything for Christmas,” Martu said. “All I asked for was money to send to my family back in Africa, so I wasn’t expecting this to happen.”

The Zabinskis are a blended family; Emma and her brother, Darren, are siblings by birth.

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“We have Martu and Thomas, Macki and Louisa and Michelle — all five of them have been adopted,” Emma said.

Darren was away from the holidays last year, so he wanted to make sure the entire family is together this Christmas.

“It’s really nice to have Emma home, especially with her not going to be here next year,” Darren said.

Emma expects to be deployed in 2016, so this holiday could be her last for a while.

Christmas will be super special this year for Martu and Thomas.

“Having her home is always nice to see all the family,” Martu said. “When we’re all together, it’s just a happy moment … it’s just a blessing to have a huge family.”

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Emma will spend the week with family before heading back to Norfolk, Virginia, where she is in training. She does not know when and where she will deploy.

Reg Chapman