USO of Jacksonville needs your help to feed service members this Thanksgiving

(Photo: Merrilee Moore)

JACKSONVILLE, Onslow County - Thanksgiving is almost here and the USO of Jacksonville is coming up short on the supplies needed to feed the nearly 2,000 service members they're expecting on Thursday.

With 2,000 people to feed and only 100 turkeys, empty shelves are beginning to be a problem at the USO of Jacksonville.

"This will be filled with the cookers to do the hams, keep the turkeys warm, do all the sides, so all this area will be filled," Coastal Area Director Holly Coffer said of the empty shelves. "To fill these shelves -- I don't even know what to say. Last year these were packed full and that serves the 2,000."

The blank space is already looming over Coffer's head.

"All these were packed full of desserts," Coffer said of last year's donations. "Everything from homemade to store bought -- cookies, pies, cakes -- you name it and they'll eat it."

This year poses a new challenge. Coffer said that 2,000 servings of dessert are needed before Thursday, but desserts aren't their only problem. The USO of Jacksonville still needs large cans of corn, pre-baked rolls and about a dozen hams.

"It's a massive, massive effort," Coffer said. "We have a hundred turkeys that we're cooking. We'll have about 60 hams -- couldn't tell you the pounds of the side items, but it's a lot."

Coffer plans on starting cooking at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving. Even though the USO workers are up against a hard deadline, Coffer keeps her eyes set on why they do it all in the first place.

"It's our way of opening doors and inviting them to come in and have Thanksgiving with their USO families since a lot of these men and women can't go home or perhaps their families came in town and they don't wanna cook a meal," Coffer said. "So, bring your family in and just dine with us and let us spoil you for a little bit."

Coffer said she's thankful for the donations that have already come through. She said it's the generosity from the community that makes these Thanksgiving feasts possible.

If you'd like to donate food items to the USO of Jacksonville, it's best to get those items in by Wednesday, November 22, the latest. You can bring them to their location at 9 Tallman Street in Jacksonville.

Here is a list of the items they need right now:

12 hams Large cans of corn Pre-baked rolls Desserts of all kinds
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