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Benton American Legion & VFW host community Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Turkey MGN

Franklin County, IL (WSIL) -- This Thanksgiving there's no better thank you than the ones we give to our veterans.

In Franklin County, the Benton American Legion and the VFW hosted a community Thanksgiving for the 12th year.

It's a potluck style dinner for veterans and the public alike. Put together more than a decade ago, so veterans wouldn't be spending the holiday alone.

"I started to see a need within the community of veterans, especially single veterans, that were starting just to stay shut in," says Gary Fravell, the former Post Commander.

And the Thanksgiving dinner at the American Legion was created. The dinner has since evolved not only to include the public but also to include a Christmas dinner as well.

"We'll be doing the same thing at Christmas," says Mike Smith, Post Commander of American Legion Post 280. "You don't have to be a member to come sign up to bring something. You don't have to sign up to bring it in. Because all the leftovers that we have, about 5 o'clock, we'll start plating food and taking it to the police department and fire department because they're working today too."

The entire Thanksgiving dinner was put together by volunteers from across the community with each contributing a side dish.

The Benton American Legion, the VFW, the auxiliary, the VFW auxiliary, the ryders, the boy scouts have helped," says Smith. "It's every organization in this building has helped out, whether they volunteered to bring in plates or bags, they've helped. My wife would kill me if I asked her to cook everything on that table, so without them."

The five turkeys and two hams are prepped in the back and supplied by the legion and VFW.

95-year-old World War II and Korean War veteran Ed Farvell says everything tasted great.

"Oh it was very very good," he says.

Air Force veteran Paul Lingle agrees. "Everything was wonderful. Even my wife who is very picky said, 'Ooooh, that's good. Especially the crab salad."

While there with friends, family or comrades, the meaning of Thanksgiving kept resurfacing. It means something different for everyone.

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