Sometimes Thanksgiving Day is eating turkey at the Army post dining facility with fellow uniformed soldiers because loved
ones are thousands of miles away.
It is also sharing a meal in a chapel with friends and strangers because the day is about fellowship.
Wherever the meal was served Thursday, people across Augusta celebrated Thanksgiving by giving back, helping others and reminding each other about all there is to be grateful for.
At Word of Faith Christian Fellowship Church on Milledgeville Road, friends gathered in the chapel before serving a meal to whoever trickled in and took turns talking about life’s blessings.
“I’m thankful for God for blessing me with a mother who is a mother figure and a father figure,” said Devin Combs, 16. “My father is not here, but we have many father figures in our lives. Every morning when I wake up, I don’t see my father lying next to my mother in bed and I can’t call him on the phone, but I thank all the father figures for helping me.”
Minister Kisha Howard said she was thankful for her husband, who is always a comedian, and for her church friends who helped her cope with a painful miscarriage this summer.
Four months later, Howard is expecting again and has learned the hard times have made her even more thankful for what’s to come.
“If y’all don’t believe prayer works, I have evidence right here,” she said, rubbing her belly.
Loretta Butler said the 13-year-old church has offered a Thanksgiving meal for about 11 years.
Along with the warm meal, the congregation made clothing donations for anyone in need.
“Around this time of year, people get depressed and lonely,” Butler said. “Senior citizens who are by themselves, or anyone by themselves, we want to make sure people are not alone and we want to feed whoever is hungry.”
At Fort Gordon, senior enlisted officers dressed in their formal Army
blues served the soldiers, a
Thanksgiving tradition in the Army.
Three dining facilities put on a meal for the soldiers. Carol Dunn, a dining facility manager, said employees worked to make the cafeteria feel like home.
The facility was decorated with orange streamers, ice sculptures and floral arrangements.
For the fourth year in a row, Dunn’s facility won the title of best decorated. She said her secret is putting passion into what she does.
“This is what I love doing,” she said.
For the soldiers who are miles from their hometowns and families, the meal was a consolation for spending the holiday at the Army base.
“It comes and it goes,” said Pfc. Brendon Hoeke, of South Dakota. “It was kind of hard this morning. You’re away from your family, but you realize you have more people here with you, too, who are going through the same thing.”
Master Sgt. Vadrekaus O’Neal said it was a privilege to be scooping stuffing and mashed potatoes onto the plates of the soldiers who serve the country.
“The Army is their home away from home,” he said. “We are their family, and this is definitely an honor.”