SWAMPSCOTT — The Military Friends Foundation handed roughly 150 veterans and gold star families, most of whom are from Swampscott or Lynn, Hero Meals boxes — each containing pies, pastries, sparkling apple cider, and $100 grocery store gift cards — on Humphrey Street Monday afternoon.
Director of Veterans Services in Lynn and Swampscott Michael Sweeney, who serves on the MFF Executive Board, said the Heroes Meals event, now in its fifth year, is about thanking the men and women who served this country around the holidays.
“We just wanted to do something for our veterans. A lot of families and veteran families on this holiday could use a thank you. It’s a nice time to come and be together, and it’s always nice to have someone say ‘thank you for your service,'” Sweeney said.
Gold star wives Linda Solimine Cafferty and Denise Barnes delivered meal boxes to veterans and military families outside the MFF headquarters at 212 Humphrey St., greeting each recipient with conversation and gratitude for their service.
Cafferty, whose husband Tom served as a gunship pilot in Vietnam, said she volunteered to thank those who served and are often underappreciated when they return home.
“I’d like to give back to wives, gold star families, and, of course, the military. We don’t give them enough thanks. I know my husband never got that coming home from Vietnam,” Cafferty said.
Monday afternoon’s event was one of MFF’s three Heroes Meals Thanksgiving events. On Monday morning, volunteers distributed boxes outside the Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, and on Tuesday, volunteers will distribute boxes to veterans at the National Guard Armory in Springfield.
“With less than 1% of our population currently serving in the military, this is a way we can recognize their sacrifices. Thanks to the tremendous of support of UniCare, Big Y and many community groups, we were able to provide Hero Meals to more than 2000 military members and their families across the state this Thanksgiving,” Military Friends Foundation Executive Director Sarah Sweeney said.
Michael Sweeney, who served in the War in Afghanistan, said the Heroes Meals events also give veterans and military families a chance to meet and support one another during the holidays.
“It’s sort of like a reunion — every year we get together. We’re all working together, we all see each other, it’s a lot of fun. When people talk about never forgetting people’s service, this way we can ensure that with events like this, big and small, across the country during the holidays as more people put the action behind the words ‘we’ll never forget your service.'”