While the country braces itself for a Thanksgiving different from previous years, everyone is experiencing a tinge of sadness due to Thanksgiving 2020. Included in this group are our U.S. service members and their families. These families find themselves in tough circumstances, not able to return home to extended family due to COVID-19.
This pandemic has created unique stressors for military families. Service members have been separated from their families for longer stretches. Family budgets are stretched thin due to spousal job loss. And fatigue is a constant companion as both parents become makeshift teachers during periods of school shutdowns or virtual classes.
Families in Need
Every year at Fort Knox, the American Red Cross along with chaplains on base get together to provide a full Thanksgiving meal to military families in need. “This year, the need is felt more than ever before,” shares May Giulitto, Red Cross Manager at Fort Knox. “We provide these dinners to military families in need who have a lower rank and greater financial need. Many people don’t realize how some of these young families are just scraping by and COVID-19 has made it even harder for them.”
But don’t just take Giulitto’s word for it. The numbers are the proof in the pudding. “I did it in 2017 and 2018, and we had about 120 families,” said Yvonne Plough, Helping Hands Food Pantry Lead at Fort Knox. “This year, we have almost 300 families.”
Dinner is Served
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, a small group of Red Cross volunteers and service members came together donning masks and gloves. Physically distanced, they loaded 300 bags with non-perishable items, labeled them and sent them out for distribution. Each family is presented with a turkey and a Thanksgiving bag, filled to the brim with all the ingredients needed for a full meal.
Despite the circumstances this year, families were thankful to receive full meals. Operation Thanksgiving continues to be a service that provides hep to our most vulnerable service members and their families, and this year is no different. When asked about this special service, Plough shared, “I like volunteering here and I know the food goes to those who need it. The best part of this is the community that comes together each year to help the soldiers. I’m thankful for them.”