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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Thanksgiving is a day meant to be shared with family and friends, but some here in the Port City chose to invite strangers into their homes.

More than 100 Marines traveled to the Wilmington Thursday to spend Thanksgiving with families they never met.

“It means a lot. I’ve never had anyone, especially strangers take me in and feed me such good food,” said Cpl. Riley Jantz.

Cpl. Jantz and Pvt. Alfilio Martiniez spent the day with the Barnette family.

Cpl. Jantz says he has spent the past several years alone on Thanksgiving and is grateful to be able to spend this year with such a wonderful family.

“Every day I wake up and I go to work, then home and then back to work. You don’t feel love. When you come to places like this you feel love,” said Jantz.

Pvt. Martiniez just finished boot camp. He says he is thankful to be spending a day in a home filled with so much love.

“I’m thankful for actually getting a chance to become part of this new family,” said Martinez.

The Barnette’s say this is their first time hosting Marines for Thanksgiving. They say they hope this experience will teach their two young boys what it means to give back.

“I’m most thankful for the fact that anyone can be family. It’s so special to be able to bring anyone into your home and to make them feel like a part of your group,” said Carrie Barnette.

75 families hosted Marines this year in New Hanover County.

Comment on this Story

  • Christine Neal

    My husband, Rick, and myself were honored to be amoung the lucky chosen families who had the privaledge of hosting 2 of these fine young heroes. Both Lance and Rob are from Ohio as is my husband, they not only had their USMC connection but a home State one too. These fine young men were so appreciative and extreamly polite and I loved having the opportunity to show my appreciation to them by spoiling them with food, gifts and Southern love. I must admit to tearing up when it was time for them to leave and even though they were forwarned by my daughter that I was a hugger I had to hug them twice on the way to car. I hope now for their safety in their careers and love the forever memory they gave my entire family…
    thank you Steve Schnitzler (Port City Java) for putting this together for our local Heroes and we would be thrilled to have the honor to do this again next year!!!

  • Lara Girdler

    We too were honored to have two of these young men in our home for Thanksgiving, James and John were very sweet (don’t tell them I said that ;-)) talked our ears off, played with our dog, giving him lots of love and attention, not like he didn’t try and take it every chance he got LOL!!! I fed them appetizers (just chips, dip & deviled eggs) and they ate just about all of it, they played Skip Bo (a card game) with my husband and daughter for the better part of the afternoon and then we enjoyed a wholesome dinner! All in all it was wonderful to hear how thankful they were for us bringing them into our home – John told us they thought they were coming to eat in a large mess hall with families joining them there, no idea they were going to actually come into our home – and how gracious of hosts we were! It was wonderful to hear about their family traditions, girlfriends, pets and dreams each one had for their futures!

    Being away from our families on Thanksgiving ourselves, we understood completely what it was like for them – so having them here just made our day feel fuller, if that makes sense!

    Thanks PCJ & Steve Schnitzler, for doing this program and we just hope we can do it again in the future!

  • craig

    My Sarah and I hosted 2 of these fine young men yesterday and we were so blessed. These men (one was 17, funny calling him a man, but he was) were so grateful and respectful. They ate and ate and ate and it was just wonderful to see them eat. They were from NY and did not know what a southern style Thanksgiving was. They loved the corn puddin’. We even got them to pronounce it with out the “G”. They loved water. My Sarah bought 6 sodas. They wanted nothing to do with that. I made sure their glasses never went dry. It was the best Thanksgiving I have had since my mom did it 30 years ago. It will be a tradition in our house for many years to come. Thank you to the people that set this up!!


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