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Connecticut Guardsman organizes Thanksgiving meal donations

Senior Airman Alexis Maher, 103rd Security Forces Squadron defender, packs a vehicle with Thanksgiving meal kits at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut, Nov. 16, 2020. Maher organized the squadron’s second annual Thanksgiving food drive, in which 103rd Airlift Wing members helped donate a total of 120 family meal kits to food banks in six Connecticut towns. (Courtesy photo)

Senior Airman Alexis Maher, 103rd Security Forces Squadron defender, packs a vehicle with Thanksgiving meal kits at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut, Nov. 16, 2020. Maher organized the squadron’s second annual Thanksgiving food drive, in which 103rd Airlift Wing members helped donate a total of 120 family meal kits to food banks in six Connecticut towns. (Courtesy photo)

Thanksgiving family meal kits are prepared for delivery in the 103rd Security Forces Squadron training classroom at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut, Nov. 16, 2020. Senior Airman Alexis Maher, 103rd Security Forces Squadron defender, organized this year’s squadron Thanksgiving food drive, in which 103rd Airlift Wing members helped donate a total of 120 meal kits to food banks in six Connecticut towns. (Courtesy photo)

Thanksgiving family meal kits are prepared for delivery in the 103rd Security Forces Squadron training classroom at Bradley Air National Guard Base in East Granby, Connecticut, Nov. 16, 2020. Senior Airman Alexis Maher, 103rd Security Forces Squadron defender, organized this year’s squadron Thanksgiving food drive, in which 103rd Airlift Wing members helped donate a total of 120 meal kits to food banks in six Connecticut towns. (Courtesy photo)

EAST GRANBY, Conn. --

As many American families continue to face health and economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Connecticut Air National Guard member is making sure families in the local community can enjoy a warm meal this Thanksgiving.

Senior Airman Alexis Maher, 103rd Security Forces Squadron defender, organized the squadron’s second annual Thanksgiving food drive this fall. Maher collected both food and monetary donations from Airmen throughout the 103rd Airlift Wing to put together meal kits for families.

“The first year we donated to two towns--Granby and Wethersfield--and with the coronavirus this year, I really thought it was important to help even more families around the state,” said Maher.

This year, donations went to food banks in Hartford, Granby, South Windsor, Vernon, Wethersfield, and Coventry.

“We were able to put together 120 bags this year, and 20 bags went to each town,” said Maher. “All these bags go to local families who signed up for them at the food banks.”

Each bag contains a box of stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, biscuits or cornbread, a can of cranberry sauce, two cans of vegetables, and a dessert mix.

The results of the food drive speak to the care unit members have for the well-being of their fellow Connecticut residents, said Maher.

“We have a really good community on this base,” said Maher. “Everybody comes together and this is a great way to share our support and gratitude for our local communities, especially during the holiday season.”

This is especially important as families forego typical large family gatherings to protect the health of their loved ones, said Maher.

“A lot of the time, people come together during the holidays, and unfortunately that’s different this year with coronavirus,” said Maher. “So I hope that providing these food packages can help families enjoy the holiday during these especially difficult times.”

The Connecticut National Guard has helped local communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 1,000 Guardsmen activated for response missions, including recovery center setup, patient care, and PPE distribution.

Even while off duty, Guardsmen are working diligently to support the community during these trying times, said Maher.

“In the Guard, we’re local citizens in uniform,” said Maher. “It’s hard to see people struggling in our community, and I’m grateful that we’re able to help.”