SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – People who can use a helping hand, including homeless and needy veterans, were invited to a Thanksgiving meal in Scranton.
The dinner was organized in just three weeks by a veteran himself.
If you asked Travis Heller where he thought he would be on Thanksgiving just a month ago, chances are the answer would not have been inside the kitchen at the F.O.P. Lodge in Scranton.
But here he is, carving up turkey.
“I’m not doing it for any, whatever you call it, recognition. I just, we took the oath and that doesn’t ever stop!” SSgt Travis Heller said.
Heller served in the U.S. Air Force from 2006 to 2014.
Three weeks ago, after attending an event at Lackawanna College, Heller says he saw just how much need there is among local veterans and decided to set-up a Thanksgiving dinner for them and anyone else who needs a helping hand.
He started by getting donations.
“Kost, the local tire and auto place, they donated $100 and Walmart gave us $100,” SSgt Heller said.
As soon as the doors opened at noon, his first guests arrived.
“I’m just thankful for someone to be giving for Thanksgiving,” guest Martise Banks said.
The guests appreciated Heller’s kindness.
“Seeing new people and trying out new things,” guest Aaron Haines said.
In addition to the food, people who turned out could also get free hats and bags that contained gloves and other toiletries.
As soon as people heard about Heller’s new mission, volunteers including other veterans, showed up to help.
“He’s enlightened me today. I mean, I’m glad that I was able to step out!” Chaplain Thomas Furino with the Spring Brook Township Volunteer Fire Company said.
Travis Heller says after he cleans-up from Thursday’s Thanksgiving meal he will decide if he’s going to host a similar Thanksgiving event next year.