FAIRMONT - Thanksgiving came on Saturday for some local military families, courtesy of Martin County Beyond The Yellow Ribbon.
Volunteers gathered in the cold and windy parking lot of the National Guard Armory in Fairmont, packed their vehicles with ham, turkey, and fixings, and delivered the goods to approximately 60 families, said Chuck Mixson, veterans coordinator for MCBTYR.
The volunteers had their own reasons for helping.
Chuck Mixson, veterans coordinator for Martin County Beyond The Yellow Ribbon, hands a turkey to a volunteer who helped deliver Thanksgiving meals to military families on Saturday.
"Because this is a fantastic cause," said Barbara Jordi of Sherburn. "We want to support the families of the troops. It's a wonderful opportunity and blessing to these families."
"Because my brother (Spenser Meadows) is in the National Guard," said Colin Meadows of Fairmont.
"I'm a Vietnam vet," said Doug Johnson of Fairmont, who served in the Navy from 1972-74. "When I got back, nobody but nobody treated us good. I swore to myself it would never happen to another vet."
"They're my brothers," said Terry Anderson, a Vietnam veteran who served in the 199th Army from 1968-69.
MCBTYR is an ongoing group that continues to serve military personnel and their families, even though the National Guard troops have been called back, Mixson said. The Thanksgiving meal is an example.
"This gift is our thank you for all they have sacrificed by their loved one serving in the military," Mixson said.
"We're here to support all military families, not just National Guard troops, although they are the bulk we try to help," he said. "It's hard on people when they're deployed. Our mission is to take care of those in our county."
As a member of the group, Mixson knows how much the programs and events sponsored by MCBTYR can mean, and he knows how it feels for the families: His daughter Ashley was in the military.
"My daughter is coming home for Thanksgiving for the first time in eight years," he said, noting his son-in-law is still in the military.
As much as MCBTYR members want to help, it's tough to reach out.
"Our hands are tied by the government. They're not allowed to give out the names," Mixson said. "We can't solicit families; they have to come to us."
Families wanting to register with the group can contact Tam Plumhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org or come to the group's meetings at 6 p.m. the first Monday of every month at the Armory.
"She's sort of organized this whole thing," Mixson said of Plumhoff, whose son is serving in Japan.
"I'd like to thank all the volunteers who showed up to deliver these meals, giving up their Saturday," Mixson said.
"We're always looking for volunteers. We're open to ideas on how people think we can help military families."
They need people to serve on committees, decorate, cook, set up for events, and dozens of other jobs.
"All sorts of people from all walks of life are in Yellow Ribbon," Mixson said. "I'm really uplifted to see the support we get from the public at large."