The Columbia VA hosted a drive-thru Thanksgiving meal pickup, Saturday, Nov. 20.

It received more than 1,000 pounds of non-perishable food items from local churches, non-profits, individuals, businesses and Veterans Service Organizations. All the donations went toward providing a Thanksgiving meal to roughly 140 South Carolinian Veterans who are facing food insecurity.

“Food insecurity is a problem nationally,” said Shannon Stone, voluntary service specialist. “These types of donations are very important to us because we rely heavily on them to take care of our Veteran families during this time of year.”

Employees from Columbia VA and volunteers from Soldiers’ Angels put together Thanksgiving meals for local Veterans.

To many, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without a turkey, so the men and women of the Alpha Omega Phi Military Fraternity and Sorority provided 75 turkeys to include in the meal boxes.

“Our mission is to give back to the Veterans.”

“This is what we’re here for,” said Kenny Thompson, national president of the Alpha Omega Phi Military Fraternity and Sorority. “Our mission is to give back to the Veterans and our sponsors… greatly help with that.”

Initially, the number of meals were limited to 75 to ensure that every Veteran received a turkey, but as social workers began determining more and more Veterans in need of a holiday meal, an alternative solution was developed. To ensure that everyone who received a Thanksgiving meal was able to enjoy the holiday staple, Veterans who did not receive a turkey in their box were given a gift card to purchase one.

Creating a memory and quality time together

Prior to the event, members of Soldiers’ Angels helped hospital employees assemble the boxes, which included macaroni and cheese, stuffing, yams, green beans, cake mix with icing, and much more.

Stone, with tears in her eyes, told of a local Veteran who was “ecstatic” to receive a donation meal for Thanksgiving because it meant that he would be able to provide a home cooked meal to his children.

“That’s the impact,” Stone said. “These donations help families not only have a meal but help them to create a memory and have quality time together.”

CVAHCS’s voluntary service team’s work doesn’t stop following Thanksgiving, the crew is now looking toward Christmas as they begin preparing 400 boxes to supply local Veterans in need of essentials.

By Wyatt L. Anthony is a Navy Veteran and a public affairs specialist for the Columbia VA

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Published on Nov. 26, 2021

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