Marines surprised by families Thanksgiving meals


WILMINGTON (WWAY) — Nothing says Thanksgiving more than a home-cooked meal.

Thursday morning, some lucky Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville had the opportunity to experience just that, all thanks to some generous Cape Fear families.

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Marines had no idea they would be spending the holidays with families until this past Monday.

Port City Java CEO Steven Schnitzler says for nearly a decade, they have has bused in Marines to share a Thanksgiving meal with families.

“For a lot of these young Marines, they’re 18-19 years old,” Schnitzler said.

We’re told it began when a friend informed him about a similar program for Marines on the west coast.

That sparked his interest in helping and he has not slowed down since.

“This is their first real family holiday away from home, and with no chance to go home and see their family. To be able to share this day with a family is phenomenal, not just for them, but for the families as well,” Schnitzler expressed.

Von Straight and Zachary Mclaughlin were two of the 50 marines chosen to share this holiday with one of the dozens of families in the Cape Fear.

After four months of extensive training, this Thanksgiving holiday has a deeper meaning.

“It’s almost humbling because some days it feels like they don’t care about you. It’s just you’re a number,” Straight said.

Mary Camesi who has personal ties to the Marines says she and her family didn’t have to think twice about spending their day with Von and Zachary.

“We just want them to have some place to come and to able to eat, and spend some time and chit chat and have fun,” Camesi said.

This day for both men and women will never be forgotten.

“I picture myself in the future definitely doing something like this, and probably even more for service members of all branches. They don’t have to be in the Marines,” Mclaughlin said.

Port City Java CEO Steven Schnitzler says with the other pick up locations combined, families took in 163 marines.

For information on how you can get involved for next year, send an email to