PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - With the help of volunteers, the USO of Northwest Florida hosted a Thanksgiving feast at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.
Food and football were on the menu, with BBQ and more football planned for the weekend.
Navy and Marine students came by the dozen, and they came hungry.
USO staff members kept them orderly as they made their way through the chow line.
"We want to show them we love them and provide them with a Thanksgiving dinner," said Director of the Northwest Florida USO Heidi Blair.
Blair said it took community support to make Thursday's event a reality.
PennAir Federal Credit Union donated 75 turkeys, McGuire's donated mashed potatoes, and Wal-Mart on Navy Boulevard also donated 25 turkeys and supplies.
"Volunteers came out of the wood work. It's amazing; we had to turn volunteers away," said Blair.
At least one volunteer started working on the meal Wednesday night and then showed up at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.
"It is an honor to serve these men and woman because they serve our country," said Laurie Perley, USO volunteer since 2011.
Perley's son is serving overseas, this is their first Thanksgiving holiday spent apart.
"I love him, and I miss him," said Perley.
She planned to talk with him by phone late Thursday.
"I've seen him in all of these faces that are around me that I am honored to serve," said Perley.
Sailors and Marines at the event said they had plenty to be thankful for this holiday season.
"I'm thankful for the opportunity to rest, and not have someone yell at me for once," said PFC Geovanny Montijo, U.S. Marine Corp.
"That I can actually contact my family instead of being in basic and not being able to contact them," said Jacob Anderson, member of the aircrew for the U.S. Navy.
"I'm thankful that I'm out of MCT and boot camp. I'm done with all that mess," said PFC Brian Lee, U.S. Marine Corp.
The Northwest Florida USO needs food donations for the weekend.
You can call (850) 455-8280, option 2 for more information about donating.
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