Rolling Thunder provides turkey dinners for families

Rolling Thunder riders dipped into their organizational pockets and came up with a bunch of turkey dinners for military families who are a little strapped for cash this holiday season.

Mike Goodwin said the money raised by members of Va. Chapter 3 throughout the year with their motorcycle tours, raffles and donations was enough to buy Thanksgiving dinners for 78 families — and they still have enough left over to do the same again at Christmas.

About a dozen chapter members got together Sunday at the Dumfries Community Center and stuffed each of the 78 brown-paper bags with 10-pound turkeys, green beans, sweet and regular potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, dinner rolls and pumpkin pies.

Goodwin, the Thanksgiving-Giveaway chairman, said the chapter spent just under $900 to buy the dinners for the families who signed up through the Women with Infants and Children Program.

Of course, a little help from a local grocery store didn’t hurt the effort either, Goodwin said.

Michael Yates, the store manager of Shopper’s Food Warehouse on the Prince William Parkway and co-manager Ed Mahinger chipped in to help with the bags of holiday groceries.

“Those two are the ones that really made it happen,” Goodwin said of the grocery store managers, who helped defray cost of food for the program.

Goodwin said most people don’t realize that men and women in the armed services often find it difficult to support their families on their military pay alone.

“The lower enlisted ranks, privates and corporals, just don’t make that much money. It’s hard for them to get by, especially in areas like this where the cost of living is so high,” Goodwin said, as chapter members wished everybody who came to pick up a dinner a happy Thanksgiving.

Tara Norland stopped by to pick up a dinner. Her husband is a Marine Corps lance corporal. She is expecting their second child.

“We just found out we have another baby on the way, so this has really helped us out a lot,” Norland, 25, said.

Damian Ourso stopped by the community center with his wife, Shelly, and their son Tristan.

He confirmed that it’s difficult to make ends meet on even a sergeant’s pay.

“There are all kinds of people [in the military] with two jobs because they don’t want to take handouts,” Ourso said.

Staff writer Keith Walker can be reached at (703) 878-8063.

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