Families host Marines from Camp Lejeune for Thanksgiving dinner

WALLACE, N.C. (WNCT) – More than 100 marines came on buses to River Landing in Wallace to spend their Thanksgiving holiday with complete strangers.

The reward, enjoying a home-cooked meal, something they don’t get every day

They all have unique backgrounds, coming from all around the country, and serving in different fields.

But the one thing they all have in common, .they’re Marines, nearly hundreds of miles away from home.

“This is my first holiday without my family, we have a lot of traditions so it’s weird when one of us isn’t there,” said Parrish Swanson, a Marine from Missouri.

On Thursday evening, more than 100 Marines came to the golf course community from Camp Johnson, which is part of Camp Lejeune.

Once at River Landing they were matched up with families who provided a Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings.

“I didn’t want our military people to feel like they’re left alone, so that was part of the reason we were anxious to involve Marines at Camp Lejeune,” said Robert and Carol Steen, who started the program.

A retired army man and his wife started the program ten years ago.

Back then, Steen’s kitchen with just a handful of marines has now grown to 37 other host families.

“What’s motivated me to continue to do it was that first year one of the young men said to me this is the nicest anyone has been to me in a long time,” said Sandy Jacobson, a family hosting six Marines this Thanksgiving.

“It’s nice to be able to come somewhere where you’re just taken care of,” said Brittney Erly, a Marine from Alabama.

“These people are going to take you in and feed you, i was like…ok gladly, i’ll take the offer,” said Walker Keaton, a Marine from Kentucky.

And for Verne Jacobson, he says having the honor of sitting next to these young Marines at dinner is more than just a thank you.

“I think giving back to these young men and women who put their lives on the line is pretty emotional in a way,” said Verne Jacobson.

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