FORT BELVOIR, Va. (WUSA) --- The spirit of Thanksgiving starts in the kitchen with families preparing for the holiday meal. Unfortunately, members of the military cannot always be home and may miss out on a traditional home-cooked meal.
But with help from USO Metropolitan Washington, one local military family is making sure the area's service men and women get the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year.
For over five years, the Herrera family invites local military men and women into their home during Thanksgiving to enjoy homemade turkey, trimmings, and good company.
"I do it because a lot of times, people are away from their families. We do it for them and we do it for people that would rather not spend it in a chow hall. They want the familiarity of home, and family," said Cecelia Herrera as she and her three boys cook in her kitchen.
Herrera's husband is U.S. Army Sergeant Hilario Herrera. As the wife of a military serviceman, she understands the difficulty of preparing food for the holidays when you have just relocated or are away from family.
Years ago her family got a USO Turkeys for Troops holiday gift basket for Thanksgiving. With the basket Herrera was able to prepare the Thanksgiving dinner.
"We had lost power for like the whole week leading up to Thanksgiving. He went and picked up this huge basket...and just showed up with it. And it was like 'This is awesome! Everything's right here,'" Herrera said.
This year Herrera will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for about a dozen local military guests.
"USO has told me that they'll give me...two turkeys," said Herrera.
She will prepare them along with a salt ham, sugar ham, several side dishes including mashed potatoes and green beans. In addition, Herrera also adds some foods of her own like spanikopita and egg rolls.
To families like the Herreras, USO Turkeys for Troops gives service men and women more than just food. The program offers an opportunity to be in a family environment.
"It's huge...to know that somebody is reaching out to us as military members, that just shows just how much they appreciate us," said Herrera.
Written/Produced by: Elizabeth Jia
9NEWS & WUSA9.com