Some Fort Gordon service members who couldn't be with their families for Thanksgiving got a little taste of home Tuesday in Harlem.
Volunteers applauded nearly 100 U.S. Army soldiers as they filed off buses at the Harlem Senior Center for the seventh annual Harlem Military Thanksgiving.
The event -- put on by the city of Harlem, Columbia County Community Connections and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6445 in Harlem and its Ladies' Auxiliary -- was organized to make soldiers feel at home away from home during the holidays.
It also is a way to thank and honor soldiers for their service and sacrifice.
"We thought we'd be serving," Pfc. Rachelle Higgs, 20, said as she enjoyed the feast. "We all assumed we were going to be serving."
This Thanksgiving is the first holiday that Higgs won't be spending with her family in Oklahoma. But the dinner, complete with turkey, dressing and all the fixings, helps, she said. "This is amazing," Higgs said. "This is awesome."
VFW members donated funds to purchase all the paper products including plates and napkins, while the Ladies Auxiliary provided most of the homemade food.
"This is our first real food since August," said Pvt. Jessica Ziegler, 19, who wasn't able to go home to Pennsylvania for the holiday.
Area sponsors of the event also included Harry O's restaurant, Horizon Motor Coach, Red Oak Manor, Renee Meyer Dean Photography and Two Hart's Catering.
After the Harlem High School JROTC posted the colors, Adrena Bennett, of Harlem, belted out The Star-Spangled Banner. Bennett also entertained soldiers during the meal by leading a group sing-a-long of Lean On Me.
Sgt. 1st Class Toneka Bland, supervisor of the troops, said the meal and thanks were welcome, especially to the young soldiers away from home for the first time. But the feast was a surprise.
"It does (mean a lot)," Bland said. "They knew they were coming, but they didn't expect all this."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.