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Legion Post to Host Great Lakes Navy Recruits on Thanksgiving

The distinctive building at 6144 Dempster St. will be home away from home on the holiday for young sailors.

A core of Morton Grove American Legion veterans and businesses, aided by comrades and other companies from all over the northwest suburbs, will again craft a home away from home on Thanksgiving for 50 Navy recruits from the Great Lakes training base.

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Celebrating its 5th Navy Day, will serve a full holiday dinner, provide entertainment and link the sailors to home via phones and computers at legion headquarters, 6144 Dempster St. Most of the food and equipment is donated by an array of local businesses and individuals to cover costs.

Thanksgiving Committee chairman Casey Bachara is in overdrive now coordinating a slew of moving parts to finalize the Thanksgiving program.

“What’s nice about it, it’s not only Morton Grove, but also a lot of surrounding areas pitch in and donate,” Bachara said. “It’s a big community thing. All the donations help defray costs."

The Navy recruits will arrive around 9 a.m. and stay most of the day, returning to the base by 5 p.m., Bachara said. By then, they should be stuffed with both holiday food and cheer.

“It’s a fun day. Recruits, under the rules, stay at the post," he said. "The big moment will be when they sing 'Anchors Aweigh'."

Joining Bachara on the post’s committee are Morton Grove residents Wally Zawisza, who handles the food arrangements; Joe Gesicki, who works with Bachara on setting up the phone bank and decorations, and Ray Ariaz, who coordinates the entertainment. Other committee members who live in nearby suburbs are Greg Padovani, who coordinates with the Navy; Bob Ferraro, who arranges for the bus transportation from Cook County School Bus Co., and David Lee, handling media relations.

Among Morton Grove businesses contributing to the event are ,  and . Village Creamery in Niles donates the ice cream, while Costco in Niles has five large apple and five large pumpkin pies. Pennant Foods in Northlake will be dispatching the sweet rolls and muffins.

“A lot of sweets will be donated by Legion wives and friends,” Bachara said. “Our auxiliary women will be involved in serving food. We have quite a few volunteers.”

Free phone and e-mail to all corners of the globe will be donated by AT&T, so sailors can contact family. Chicago Rush cheerleaders will provide live entertainment and Best Buy will be donating XBOX video games, while free movie rentals are featured as well.

Morton Grove Mayor Dan Staackmann and other village officials will join in greeting the sailors.

Bachara said the Legion post will accept additional volunteers and contributions.  He can be reached at 847-299-3613. Contributions can be sent to Thanksgiving Committee, American Legion Post 134, 6144 Dempster St., Morton Grove, IL 60053.

Maria Toth November 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM
I've stopped by the Civic Center the last few years to talk to the Recruits and help serve them lunch. It is always a rewarding experience -- they are all so polite and thankful that Legion Post 134 has reached out to them while they are away from their loved ones on this holiday. I would urge Morton Grove residents to contribute financially, if they are able, or to simply drop by and spend a little time visiting with the Recruits and making them feel welcome in our community.
Erica November 24, 2011 at 09:37 PM
Thank you for hosting the recruits. It was wonderful to be able to talk to my son on Thanksgiving while he is so far away. I was able to link him with other family members and friends on his call. It made it seem like he was closer than he is. Thank you to all the volunteers that made this possible. Please post more pictures if you can that would be wonderful to see. Sailor Recruit MOM
Pat Craig November 24, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Erica; Hopefully by next Tuesday or Wednesday MGTV will have video of the event on Comcast cable channel 6 and U-VERSE channel 99 in Morton Grove. If you have satellite or live out of town, it will be available on the Morton Grove YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/mortongroveilyt/
Erica November 25, 2011 at 05:56 AM
Patrick, Thank you I will be sure to check out the Morton Grove YouTube channel. Be safe and thank you for your service.

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