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By BECCA OWSLEY
While many gathered over family tables Thursday, a group of soldiers gathered at Jeff and Jennifer Hall’s house for a little reminder of their own homes.
The Halls invited Jeff’s unit in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, at Fort Knox to their home for a traditional Thanksgiving Day.
“God has blessed us with a big house we can share with other people,” Jeff said.
He noticed many soldiers in his unit didn’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving and wanted to open his home to them. The Halls hoped to give soldiers a sense of home and family and give them something to do other than sitting in their barracks.
The Halls have been in the area for a year and realized that being in the middle of the United States, many soldiers are a long way from families who may live on either coast.
“It’s nice that this gives an opportunity for those of us that our families are far away that we can come together as a unit,” Sgt. Jason Augustine, said, before enjoying the meal with his wife and 4-month-old son.
Jeff talked to many soldiers who already made plans this year because there was nothing for them last year. They were grateful to the family for the opportunity because the year before they sat in the barracks and did nothing.
Planning began early and things fell into place without the Halls seeking help for the gathering.
They were going to do it all themselves but after going to a flag football game one day at Severns Valley Baptist Church, help came in droves.
They only told one person about what they were doing and by the next Sunday, four Sunday school classes stepped in to provide the supplies. All the Halls had to do was cook it.
Jeff, a squad leader and cook, cooked eight turkeys, made rolls, mashed potatoes and stuffing.
The house smelled like Thanksgiving for days, Jennifer said.
North Hardin Christian School loaned the family enough tables and chairs so at least 50 guests could sit and eat at once. Neighbors offered their properties for parking.
Soldiers and, if they have them, families were invited. Several young small families planned to attend so they could celebrate with a larger family group, Jennifer said.
“Without the chance to be with extended family, these people our are family,” said Carly Cline as she ate with her husband, Spc. Alex Cline, and other families in the unit.
Jennifer Hall thought back to how stressful she thought it was when she was home and had many places to visit on Thanksgiving Day. Now she misses that opportunity. She’s away from home and is glad to have a house full of people for the holiday.
The family has a historic home built for a large family, and hoped the soldiers who came felt like family.
Jeff’s unit is scheduled to deploy early next year. Part of the reason the Halls wanted to host the dinner was to build community.
It’s not only building unity with the soldiers but for their families after they deploy, Jeff said.
The Halls hope the event lets families know they can rely on other people in the community after their spouses have deployed.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741. Photojournalist Jill Pickett contributed to this story.