The 18- and 19-year-old U.S. Navy recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center will be sent into harm's way in a matter of weeks.
That's why Casey Bachara, Joe Gesicki and other members of Morton Grove American Legion Post 134 want to prepare a feast and a day full of entertainment and fun for about 50 of them on Thanksgiving. This is the sixth year they've done this Adopt A Sailor Navy Day.
"It's just a fun day for these kids to kick back, relax and unwind. They're a really sweet bunch of kids," Bachara said, adding that they make a point of inviting both female and male recruits.
Plans call for the recruits to arrive by bus between 8 and 9 a.m. on Nov. 22, when they can snack at a sweet table, phone anywhere in the world on a free AT&T phone bank, play video games supplied by Abt Electronics, and, if the weather's nice, play games outdoors. They can also watch movies.
The Legion is also going to try to set up computers with Internet access and Skype for them, Bachara said, and he has invited Chicago Rush cheerleaders to welcome and mingle with the recruits.
About 11 a.m., Post 134 member Ray Aries, a singer and musician, will provide entertainment and lead a singalong, and the Post tries to serve the Thanksgiving meal starting around 12:15.
The recruits have all afternoon to relax, watch movies and play games before heading back to Great Lakes around 4 or 5 p.m.
Bachara said the post couldn't do it without donors such as Kappy's, which supplies roast turkeys, Costco, which provides apple and pumpkin pies, Produce World, which sends a food tray, milk donated by Dean's, and many others.
Post members videotape the event.
"We send every family a copy of the DVD so they can see their family members were taken care of in Morton Grove on a holiday," he said.
The Post 134 members on the Thanksgiving Day committee include Casey Bachara, Chair; Joe Gesicki, Assistant Chair; Greg Padovani, Great Lakes liaison; Wally Zawisza, Food Management; Stephanie Zawisza, Food Management; Ray Aries, Entertainment; David Lee, Media and Ed Massart, Video/Photography.
Anyone wishing to make a donation to help fund the event may write a check payable to:Thanksgiving Day Committee, American Legion Post 134, and address them to American Legion Post 134, at 6144 Dempster St., Morton Grove, Ill. 60053.