AUGUSTA, Ga. – Hundreds of Fort Gordon soldiers knew they wouldn’t be able to go home for the holidays, but what they didn’t know is that they would be surprised with a Thanksgiving meal.
“There’s got to be something we can do to give them that special feel, so they don’t feel so alone. Especially during the holidays. So this is a big deal for us,” says Bryan Matthews, lead Pastor of New Life Church.
Soldiers not only sacrifice their lives for our country, but their time with their families. Especially, during the holidays.
Six local churches in the community decided to surprise nearly 500 soldiers with a Thanksgiving meal. One church involved was the New Life Church on Bobby Jones Road.
They were given a warm welcome when they stepped off the bus.
“I was told we were serving food to some people, so to get told we were serving food to some people and walking here and get food served for me, it was a really good experience,” says Ashia Byers, Private Second Class.
Most of the Fort Gordon soldiers that came in were 18-years-old or in their early 20’s. Sam Bassan who is from Wisconsin says it’s tough being miles away from home when the holidays are around the corner.
“You hardly have any contact besides with letters. It’s tough. It sucks. That’s probably the hardest part for me through basic training was being away from my family. It’s kind of the first time away from home and being away from family, so this is nice and kind of brings back a sense of family,” says Sam Bassan, Private Second Class.
But from the turkey to the dressing, soldiers tell us this dinner made it feel like home away from home.
“The food was great. I was skeptical of the food at first, because I’m from Texas. We do things a type of way in Texas, but to come here and get this food and still love it the same way as if I was at home, it’s great, says Private Byers.
New Life Church tells us it meant the world to them to see the soldiers’ faces glow up when they saw the Thanksgiving celebration.
“You can just tell it touched home. So, when you can touch a heart like that, touch a life like that it’s the greatest feeling on the planet,” says Bryan Matthews.
Soldiers tell us even though they are way from home, they are happy to serve our country and want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.