Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for everything a person has in their life. It is also a time to give back to those who need help.
And that’s what members of S.E.R.V. Niagara hope to do by hosting the first Thanksgiving dinner for homeless and disabled veterans and their families in Niagara County.
The dinner will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Nov. 25 at the American Legion Frederick F. Cadille Post 1664, 752 E. Market St., Niagara Falls.
Veterans and their families can stop by anytime between 1 and 4 p.m. and enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, vegetables, salad and cranberry sauce — free of charge.
”A day of giving thanks and serving those who serve us, that’s what we’re looking to do,” Jennifer O. D’Andrea-Terreri, S.E.R.V. Niagara founder and director, said.
D’Andrea-Terreri said as veterans leave the dinner, they will be given a bag of groceries and hygiene products to take with them.
The event is co-sponsored by S.E.R.V Niagara, Molinaro’s Ristorante, the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, American Legion Post 1664 and the Judges and Police Executive Conference of Niagara County.
D’Andrea-Terreri said all of the people co-sponsoring the event believe it is important to show the community “we’re working together for the same purpose for our veterans.”
She said combined, there are more than 2,000 disabled and homeless veterans in Niagara County.
”Niagara County has the highest concentration of veterans per capita in the state and the least number of services out here,” D’Andrea-Terreri said. “We want to make sure we have the same opportunities for veterans in our community.”
To help this first event provide items to veterans in need, D’Andrea-Terreri said they are still in need of donations.
Products needed include, shampoo, conditioners, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, soap, feminine hygiene products and toothpaste. Any non-perishable food items will also be accepted.
Those wishing to donate can drop off items at the following locations through Nov. 21:
• S.E.R.V. Niagara, 80 Park Ave., second floor, Lockport;
• Lockport Town Hall, 6560 Dysinger Road, Lockport;
•Creekside Sales and Service, 6989 South Transit Road, Lockport;
• Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, 5526 Niagara St. Ext., Lockport — building No. 2 entrance;
• American Legion Post No. 1664, 752 East Market St., Niagara Falls — inside City Market;
• Niagara Hospice, 4675 Sunset Drive, Lockport;
• Farmers Insurance and AAA Tax Service, 550 South Transit Road, Lockport.
D’Andrea-Terreri said anyone wishing to serve as a drop off location for items can contact her at 438-5437.
Monetary donations can also be sent to S.E.R.V. Niagara on Park Avenue or can be donated through the website at www.servniagara.org. Monetary donations will be used to purchase the items that will be given out at the Thanksgiving dinner.
The day of the event, transportation will be offered to veterans through the VA homeless program. In Lockport, veterans may be picked up at the Lockport VA Outreach Center, 5883 Snyder Dr. at 12:15 and 2 p.m. or the Lockport Public Library, 23 East Ave. at 2:15 and 2:30 p.m.
In Niagara Falls, pick times will be 1:15 and 2:15 p.m. at Community Missions, 1590 Buffalo Ave. and Heart, Love & Soul, 939 Ontario Ave. at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.
In North Tonawanda, pick up will be at 12:30 p.m. at North Tonawanda City Hall, 216 Payne Ave.
D’Andrea-Terreri said the VA homeless program can only transport veterans, not their families.
S.E.R.V. Niagara is dedicated to “supporting, empowering, respecting veterans and their families.” S.E.R.V. Niagara runs two homes at 571 and 589 Walnut St. in Lockport. The homes provide a safe and comfortable environment for veterans and their families, along with serving as programming locations, where veterans can obtain assistance to become self-sufficient.