ROME, N.Y. - More than 450 families and individuals in the Rome area will enjoy Thanksgiving dinner this year thanks in part to the support of New York Air National Guardsmen and Canadian forces members from the Eastern Air Defense Sector.
Nearly 30 EADS volunteers joined Rome Rescue Mission staff over the last week to prepare more than 200 Thanksgiving baskets and 250 individual meals. Most of the food was donated by local businesses and from food drives held at schools and clubs in the area.
"I'm pleased that so many of our Air National Guardsmen and Canadian Forces members volunteered their time to help the Rome Rescue Mission with this worthy cause," said Col. John Bartholf, EADs commander. "This type of volunteer effort demonstrates our commitment to the community and helps us strengthen our local ties."
EADS' volunteer effort was coordinated by Senior Master Sgt. Maureen "Mo" Dooley, a Rome resident who has worked on the Thanksgiving basket project for the last 17 years. "The key to our volunteer effort is that the airmen and Canadian forces members truly want to be here," Dooley said. The best part of the project, according to Dooley, is watching children receive baskets with their parents. "There's nothing better than seeing the smiles on their faces," she said.
A typical basket – it's actually a medium-sized box – includes rolls, potatoes, several types of canned vegetables and stuffing. Turkeys, ranging in size from 10 to 20 pounds, are placed in the boxes just before delivery and are distributed according to family size.
The Eastern Air Defense Sector is headquartered at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome. Staffed by active-duty New York Air National Guardsmen and a Canadian Forces detachment, the unit supports the North American Aerospace Defense Command's integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's homeland defense mission. EADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the eastern United States and directs a variety of assets to defend one million square miles of land and sea.