Since 2006, Kenosha (Wis.) Bible Church has hosted 50 sailors from the nearby Great Lakes Naval Station for a Thanksgiving day away from the base. The young men have just finished their seventh week of boot camp and are about to graduate. For most, it’s the first Thanksgiving they’ve spent away from family.
The day includes a home-cooked meal served in small family groups (with local grocery stores donating the food). But there’s more: AT&T donates phones so the recruits can call home; the men can play basketball, join in karaoke or create greeting cards for loved ones; and a photo backdrop is set up, so that each young man can have his portrait taken to give as a gift. And the grand finale — a giant Nerf War, KBC children vs the US Navy.
Each year, the children of the involved families beg mom and dad to host again. And it means even more to the men. “I am not a religious person,” one recruit wrote afterward, “but your church is the only one I’d go to. Your hospitality was wonderful.”
Another added: “Today we were asked, not told or ordered, to relax and accept gratitude that we don’t even feel we yet deserve. . . . We appreciate all of your time and effort. . . . P.S. The church kids whipped us pretty good with those Nerf missiles!
photo credit: Sharon Campbell