VILLA PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- For some young service men and women, it can be difficult to be away from home for the holidays. But there are a number of organizations helping them cope on this Thanksgiving by offering them a smile, warm meal, and a phone call home.
There was a warm greeting for a group of naval recruits from the Great Lakes Naval Training Center as they were welcomed home for the holiday as a part of the adopt-a-sailor program sponsored by Villa Park VFW Post 2801.
Recruits enjoyed a home cooked meal as the Thanksgiving dinner guests of several Chicago area VFW and American Legion posts.
Not far away in northwest suburban Arlington Heights, 84 naval recruits were made to feel at home this holiday at another Thanksgiving Day adopt-a-sailor dinner.
The festivities not only included a traditional turkey dinner and some much deserved relaxation, but also a surprise visit from the commander of the naval service training center.
"All over the Midwest region here over 1,800 sailors are out in the community, they're in individual homes and in organizations like this celebrating this day of Thanksgiving," said Rear Admiral Stephen C. Evans.
And for a 9th year, members of the Morton Grove American Legion Post 134 held their adopt-a-sailor Thanksgiving dinner. Before the catered dinner was served, the roughly three dozen recruits had a sing-a-long.
Besides the good food and comradely, recruits also have access to a phone bank where they were able to make that rare phone call home during this holiday to talk to family and friends.
And for Seaman Apprentice Julia Markert, who is far away from her hometown of Blaine, Minn., the outpouring of appreciation is what made this Thanksgiving special.
"But some of us who live far away weren't able to have their parents come out, so it's really nice to have some organizations adopt us," Markert said.
Naval recruits thankful for warm meal, phone call home on Thanksgiving