Holiday meals for deserving military families

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They were on a holiday mission Wednesday to make sure that thousands of military families across the country and right here in our area have food on their table. (WPVI)

They were on a holiday mission Wednesday to make sure that thousands of military families across the country and right here in our area have food on their table.

300 families from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst lined up to collect their holiday meal kits, big bags brimming with goodies to help fill out the table this holiday season.

"This year is extra tough and tight because we just moved across country so this really helps out a lot," military wife Rowena Webb said.

Holiday meals for military is a nationwide project run by a group called Operation Homefront.

"This time of year, budget can be kind of tight with children in the household and purchasing Christmas presents. This is just one way Operation Homefront and our donors can say thank you to military families," Pete Stinson of Operation Homefront said.

Walmart donated the food along with the elves who volunteered to help distribute the bags. Families also received some gift cards.

"We have five children so you know it really helps out. Operation Homefront is wonderful," Amy Clawiter said.

"Especially in the military, sometimes paycheck to paycheck, and so anytime we can get help, it's always appreciated," SSgt. Matthew Clawiter of the U.S. Army said.

This year more than 12,000 families at over 35 active duty bases across the country will receive holiday meal kits. It's a gift that makes a huge difference for military families.

"It's really nice to get this little extra support so we can give our kids a really nice meal," Sr. Airman Stephanie Maurer of the U.S. Air Force said.

Amber Erb's husband has been deployed with the Navy for a year and a half and won't be back until till after Christmas.

"It'll definitely get us through and gives the kids holiday spirit knowing other people out there care about them still even though their dad's gone," military wife Amber Erb said.

Santa was on hand to greet the families.

Cassandra Merritt's husband is active-duty Army. They have four children, are on a tight budget and grateful for the holiday meals for military program.

"With the holidays, having young children, and having a community out there to help us is just a wonderful, wonderful thing," Merritt said.
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