"These kids don't care what we do with them - as long as they can call home," Tricia Elsbury, Gurnee Community Church, said.
The 182 Navy recruits are a week out from graduating from boot camp at Naval Station Great Lakes, and in the last six weeks they've been able to make about one call to family and friends. So on this Thanksgiving, they're thankful for not only access to phones, but to the dozens of laptops the school district donated to the church so the young sailors could Facebook and Skype with their loved ones.
After waiting in line with all the other recruits, Kimberly Pena, who is from Florida, got to see her sister, dad, and new niece via Skype.
"I think I might go back into the Skype room after dinner. It was great," Pena said.
Neither Pena nor the other recruits knew they'd be face-to-face with their family on Thanksgiving.
After the calls and messages, the recruits marched into the church's dining room to applause from the church and community volunteers. It's a Thanksgiving tradition.
"We see whole families coming to serve, switching the whole direction of Thanksgiving to serve rather than the indulgent thing, spend a good portion of their day serving other people," Rev. Chris Stephens, Gurnee Community Church, said.