While most people are busy planning family gatherings for the holidays, some Fort Gordon soldiers won't be able to join their families around a Thanksgiving table.
The city of Harlem hopes to fill in as a surrogate for many of those soldiers by bringing the Thanksgiving dinner to them at the third annual Feed-A-Soldier feast Tuesday at Harlem United Methodist Church.
"We have got volunteers to sit and actually eat with them and talk with them," Harlem Mayor Scott Dean said. "We're trying to put one or two people at every table so the soldiers not only get the taste of Harlem, but they get the real feel of the citizens and the volunteers and the people who put so much into it."
Volunteers from the city gather at the church to cook and serve a full Thanksgiving meal including turkey, dressing, side dishes and desserts.
Like last year, Harlem United Methodist Pastor Roger Vest said retired church secretary Mary Wilcox will probably greet each soldier with a hug.
"She had to hug every one of them," Vest said, adding the hugs caught many of the soldiers off-guard. "I bet she will (be there). She wouldn't miss it for the world."
Two groups of 100 soldiers each will be served, at 5 and 7 p.m. Vest said he is accepting donations of prepared side dishes and desserts in addition to volunteers to cook and serve, he said. Anyone interested should call the church at 556-6885.
Dean said the event is a way to make soldiers not able to go home for Thanksgiving feel as close to home as possible and to thank them for their service.
"It's been fabulous," Dean said. "We get as much out of it as they do, probably more. It's our opportunity just to say thank you, and it overwhelms you sometimes."
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