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9th annual holiday meals for military members program

Veterans will receive a free holiday turkey with all the fixings.

By Sarah Shurge – When we think of Thanksgiving, we tend to think of food, family, friends, or even football, but do you think of our veterans?
It’s important to give thanks to our veterans. That’s why Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa, Wayne-Ford Civic League President Vic Barra, and Elected Officials are coming together for the 9th Annual Holiday Meals for Wayne-Westland veterans and active-duty families.
“This is not a needy-veterans program, this is a thank-you-for-your-service program,” said Barra. “This is a meal provided by your community in gratitude for your service.”
The program is for Wayne-Westland veterans, surviving spouses, and families of active- duty service members. All you have to do is register and then you will receive a free meal.
“We want veterans to get appreciation and pick up the meal even if they don’t need it. They can give it away to someone that does,” said Barra. “Whether you eat it or give it away, it doesn’t matter. We just want to say thank you.”
When the program originally started nine years ago, they were only passing out 30 frozen turkeys from the trunk of their car. However, it quickly grew to supply an entire meal so veterans can invite their family or friends over to eat with them.
Once registered, recipients will receive a (12-16 pound) turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, cranberry sauce, and heat and serve rolls for a family of 6-8 people.
267 meal packages were handed out in 2020, 348 meals in 2021, and they are planning for 400 meals this year.
The meal is completely free, all you have to do is register using one of the four following methods:
#1: You can register online with the online form at cityofwest-land.com/615/Holiday-Meals-for-Military-Members-Progr
#2: You can call the Mayor’s Office at either: Mayor Wild’s Office at (734)467-3200 or Mayor Rhaesa’s Office at (734)722-2000.
#3: You can download the Veteran’s Registration Form from the website listed above, fill it out, and email the completed form to either: Mayor Wild at mayor@cityofwestland.com or Mayor Rhaesa at jrhaesa@cityofwayne.com

Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa, Superintendent of the Wayne Westland Community Schools John Dignan and Westland Mayor Bill Wild, with boxes of holiday meals at last year’s event.

#4: Or you can pick up a Veteran’s Registration Form at the Westland City Hall Greeter Station and drop the completed form off at either City Hall building.
Applications must be submitted no later than noon on Wednesday, November 16th, to receive a complete Holiday Meal for free.
If you are interested in donating to the cause, please visit: gofund.me/caf02579. The cut-off for donations is November 16th at the end of the registration period.
The John Glenn Junior Varsity Football team and Kronk Gym will be volunteering staff for pre-packaging the meals. There will also be volunteers from the Westland Rotary, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 9885 Auxiliary, Taylor Towers administrative staff, and many other individuals.
Veterans, active-duty service members and/or their families can pick up their meal on Saturday, November 19th, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Wayne Ford Civic League on Wayne Road in Westland.
If for any reason you are unable to pick up your meal during the scheduled day or hours of pickup, contact the Wayne Ford Civic League at (734)728-5010 and you can schedule a home delivery. Assistance, special arrangements, or delivery options are available. Westland Community Police Officers will be delivering meals to veterans.
“We make sure everyone gets their meal if they sign up for it,” said Barra.
Barra has been involved with the program since day one when it started nine years ago.
After retiring from Ford in 2019, Barra accepted the Director position under Mayor Wild. He also holds the title of Veteran Affairs Liaison. Barra is a veteran himself. He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1977. Now, Barra manages all things veteran that go through City Hall.
“Giving back to the community is what I do,” said Barra. “This meal is a form of appreciation that’s tangible. It’s nice to hear thank you for your service.”
Westland Mayor Bill Wild, Wayne Mayor John Rhaesa, and Barra created a promotional video for the meal program. You can find it on the City of Westland’s Youtube page.
“This is a great program. I’ve met veterans in the past that have used it and were very appreciative,” said Mayor Rhaesa. “I’m glad we are able to give back to the people that have served our country.”

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