Thanksgiving is a time when friends and families gather together to celebrate the day. But it’s also a time when American Legion Family members across the nation set aside their own plans to assist others.
Throughout the nation, American Legion posts and their membership will be providing or taking part in community dinners – many for those unable to afford their own Thanksgiving dinners or, in some cases, for those working on Thanksgiving and away from their own friends and families.
For that second group, Dallas Love Field Post 453’s Legion Family in Texas is hosting its sixth annual First Responders Dinner on Thanksgiving. For more than 24 hours the post will stay open to provide dinners for local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency response personnel. From the first delivery at 11 a.m. on Thanksgiving until 2 p.m. Friday, the post stays open to provide meals – both sit-down and takeout. Last year the post served more than 420 meals.
In Illinois, two American Legion posts will continue traditions of providing Thanksgiving celebrations to Navy recruits from Naval Station Great Lakes. Morton Grove Post 134 has hosted the recruits for 13 years and provides a meal, entertainment and the opportunity for the recruits to phone or Skype home at no charge. And American Legion Post 690 in Palatine is staging an Adopt-A-Sailor dinner for the recruits.
While several Legion posts are hosting dinners, others are taking the meals to the recipients. In Kansas, the department’s American Legion Family’s annual Big Red One Turkey Run provided full Thanksgiving meals to approximately 350 families, most of whom are at the warrior transition battalion at Fort Riley.
On Nov. 24, American Legion Riders from Chapter 232 in Polk City, Iowa, teamed up with the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the Polk City American Legion Riders to put together and deliver Thanksgiving meal baskets to veterans in the area who aren't able to leave their homes. Each veteran received a complete turkey dinner for a family of six to eight people.
In Petaluma, members of Post 28’s American Legion Riders are providing 120 turkeys to U.S. Coast Guard families in need stationed at Training Center Petaluma.
The following are a handful of examples of what members of the American Legion Family across the country did or have done to help others celebrate Thanksgiving. Legion Family members who took part in such events are asked to post stories and photos on www.legiontown.org.
• Cecil Cox Post 14 in Clovis is putting together 22 meal boxes that include either a turkey or ham and all the side dishes for a full holiday meal for families in need. The boxes will be taken to Central Valley Veterans, who will distribute the meals to veteran families in need in a 100-mile area.
• In Salinas, American Legion Post 31 is continuing what is at least a 20-year tradition by hosting a meal for anyone looking for a place to eat on Thanksgiving. The post expects to serve 600 meals.
Both American Legion Post 35 in Mt. Dora and Post 221 in Niceville are opening their doors for Thanksgiving meals.
• Harmon Gray Post 83 in La Porte is hosting its 16th annual free William D. Sales Thanksgiving Dinner. A complete homemade meal will be featured, along with Christmas music and movies.
• American Legion Post 286 in North Manchester is hosting a dinner that is free to any veteran and their family.
• American Legion Post 1 in Connersville will put on a Thanksgiving meal free to veterans and their families on Nov. 27.
Brandywine American Legion Post 227 is hosting a Thanksgiving meal for veterans and their families.
• On Nov. 10, Oscar Brady Post 298 in Battle Creek served over 250 people at a Thanksgiving meal that happened in conjunction with the post’s other Veterans Day events.
• American Legion Post 73 in Sturgis is serving a complete Thanksgiving dinner that is open to the public.
In Brainerd, American Legion Post 255 is offering a Thanksgiving dinner with a free-will donation to anyone to would like to attend. The post also is offering delivery of meals.
“Last year we did about 350 deliveries … with about another 300 meals served at the Legion,” Post 255 General Manager Janelle Fitch told the Brainerd Dispatch. “We have families that come in here just because it’s a space where everybody can get together.”
Post 1990 in Nesbit is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner that is open to the public.
• The Frank E. Booms Post 6 American Legion Family in Portsmouth is serving a dinner for those with nowhere else to go. The post also will deliver meals to area senior housing.
• Ross Wood Post 20 in Woodsville will feed approximately 200 people for Thanksgiving, something it has been doing for more than 40 years.
• Claude R. Batchelder Post 72 in Alton is hosting a free Thanksgiving meal for the community. Meals will also be delivered to shut-ins.
In Wilson, American Legion Post 17 hosted a Nov. 21 dinner for around 50 veterans. “We always try to do a little something for the community,” Post 17 Commander Henry Lindsey told the Wake Weekly. “This event here is reaching out to the Vietnam veteran. The Vietnam veteran was the one that got lost, and we try to reach out to those that aren’t going to have Thanksgiving meal. All they’ve got to do is come eat. That’s what it’s all about.”
Joseph W. Diehn Post 468 in Sylvania is putting together 25 baskets for area veterans for Thanksgiving, providing everything needed for a full dinner. And Post 479 in Swanton is hosting afternoon and evening meals.
• American Legion Post 674 in Mt. Holly Springs handed out more than 60 boxes of food on Nov. 21 to those local families in need.
• Trafford American Legion Post 331’s Legion Family is serving a free Thanksgiving Day dinner for residents in the community who may not have anywhere to go for a meal on the holiday. Last year around 45 people attended the annual meal.
American Legion Post 2 in West Warwick is hosting a full Thanksgiving Day Meal for local veterans.
• On Nov. 24, residents in the Odessa area gathered at Earle S. Bailey Post 430 for the post’s 7th annual “Thanksgiving Dinner Feast.” “I understand that sometimes we all can't travel because of our jobs during the weekdays. I do this on the Sunday before Thanksgiving to have them invite their family and friends on this weekend and have a free Thanksgiving dinner,” Post 430 member Jesse Porras told CBS7.
• David H. McNerney Post 658 in Crosby is feeding anyone that shows up on Thanksgiving. The post is cooking 31 turkeys with sides, and will also have a bounce house, and a volleyball court and obstacle course set up.
• Post 88 in Lake Dallas is hosting a community Thanksgiving dinner.
• Chincoteague Post 159 is hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for both post members and the community.
• American Legion Post 364 in Woodbridge hosted its annual Senior Citizens Thanksgiving dinner on Nov. 23.
Marvin G Shields Memorial Post 26 in Port Townsend is hosting dinner on Thanksgiving Day for its members, guests and the community.
Volunteers from American Legion Richard I. Bong Post 435 will be helping out at the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center in Superior, where a free Thanksgiving meal is being provided for up to 100 people.
The Donald Eisenhauer American Legion Post 60 in Pine Bluffs is hosting free Thanksgiving Day dinner that is open to the public and any veteran and their families.