WILLMAR -- Fifty veterans and their families will pick up turkeys and all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving meal today from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Men's Auxiliary of Willmar.
It's a way for the men's auxiliary at Post 1639 to show gratitude to veterans on the holiday.
Auxiliary president Glen Lotthammer said the group first came up with the idea of giving away turkeys. "We felt we should do a little bit more directly for vets and for their families," he said.
The idea "just kinda took off from there," he said. The auxiliary sought donations to supplement their budget for the meals, Lotthammer said, and businesses stepped up.
Jennie-O Turkey Store donated 50 turkeys, and Cash Wise Foods and Cub Foods each donated the fixings for dinner, packed in sturdy boxes from the stores. Whitefield Farms of rural Willmar donated about 100 squash for the meals, too.
Monday afternoon, the group picked up the groceries and organized the meal boxes at the VFW post.
Lotthammer said each family will receive a food box, plus pie, whipped topping and a turkey from the post's coolers. The turkeys have been placed in coolers so they could begin to thaw and be ready for Thursday. Single veterans who don't want a whole turkey will be offered a turkey breast instead.
The 50 families have been chosen with the help of Kandiyohi County Veterans Service Officer Trisha Appeldorn, Lotthammer said. The give-away is by invitation only.
"I am pleased that it has come together so well; the biggest thing is we want to say, 'thank you,'" he said, and his group is gratified by the business donations.
"If there's any message I would like people to get, I would like the community to thank the vets, individually," Lotthammer said. "Walk up to them, and thank them for their service."