SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- For most, Thanksgiving Day is usually spent with family and friends. Many Sailors, however, were not fortunate enough to be with those they love because they were too far away. The Armed Services YMCA, with the help of the military, has been providing Sailors with Thanksgiving Home Hospitality families for the past 60 years so military personnel will always have a home to go to for the holidays.
According to Cindy Farless, YMCA military program director, the project started in the early 1940's when Sailors had nowhere to go for the holidays. Many families adopt more than one Sailor, which makes it a good deal for those Sailors who want to take a friend with them.
"We have a database of families that participate every year. The families are great; they love the program," said Farless. "When we run out of Sailors, the families are disappointed because some of them make (this) part of their holiday tradition."
Approximately 45 families volunteered to host the more than 60 Sailors and Marines adopted for the holidays.
"It's too far to go home. My friend Chris and I are both being adopted for a day by one family," said Sonar Technician (Surface) Seaman Ivan Bonachea. "I am used to a big holiday meal during Thanksgiving, so this should be nice."
At 10 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Sailors and host families waited at the front gate of Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare Training Center to be paired up. The Sailors were nervous and excited, wondering what their day with the host family would be like.
"I did not want to spend the holiday alone. I have never been away from my family during the holidays before," said Sonar Technician Seaman Chris Moss. "It will probably be weird around the family at first. I hope they like football and video games."
When their numbers were called, Sailors were introduced to their host families, and departed the base with their family for a Thanksgiving dinner. However, not all the Sailors left in cars. Two Sailors were lucky enough to be transported by a fire truck to Fire Station Number 4 in Santee.
"We are having a Thanksgiving dinner at the Fire Department, and thought it would be nice to give back to the military in some way, so Don Anderson's family decided to adopt some Sailors," said Fire Captain Bruce Fearon. "If a drill or alarm goes off, we will take the Sailors with us to see what it is like. We thought it would be great to have the Navy spend time with us."
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