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Minot Air Force Base to deliver Day of Love through Meals on Wheels

MAFB airmen to deliver Day of Love to homes

The annual Day of Love will look different for local seniors this Thanksgiving. The coronavirus pandemic has forced volunteers at Minot Air Force Base to take a new direction because of safety concerns in gathering large numbers of seniors on the base for a Thanksgiving Day meal.

Instead, the base is supplying about 30 volunteers who will deliver meals next Wednesday for the Minot Commission on Aging’s Meals on Wheels program. Along with the Wednesday meals, they will be delivering about 260 additional Thanksgiving dinners.

Susan Wagers with the marketing office of the 5th Force Support Squadron said it was a hard decision to have to cancel the base event. It has been canceled only once previously and that was following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Wagers said she heard from volunteers interested in knowing if there was an alternative way they could participate at Thanksgiving. She contacted the Minot Commission on Aging to see what opportunities might be available.

The commission was already considering possibilities.

“We were trying to think of some other way that we could make it feel like Thanksgiving for our clients, so we are providing two meals on the 25th and one of them will be a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Deb Leyrer, office manager with Minot Commission on Aging.

Wagers saw delivering those meals as the opportunity her military volunteers were looking for.

“I said, ‘I can pretty much guarantee you we can get you those volunteers,” Wagers said.

Uniformed airmen from two squadrons will be making deliveries.

“If we just said, ‘OK, it’s canceled,’ I just felt like that was almost final,” said Wagers, who didn’t want to see Day of Love come to an end. Now, she said, “I do kind of feel like this is just a little bump in the road.”

The hope is to bring back in 2021 the traditional Day of Love meal served by airmen for area seniors.

“It’s important that we keep something going to keep that connection,” Wagers said.

“The seniors just love it,” she added. “A lot of the seniors that we have come out don’t have a connection to the military so they have not been on the base. They have not been in our facility to see what it is like. I think it really adds that extra special touch.”

The base’s annual Thanksgiving Day program started after Col. Grover Graves Jr. arrived as commander of the then 91st Strategic Missile Wing (now 91st Missile Wing) in 1970. Graves contacted Claude “Bud” Ebert, then chief of Recreation Services at the base, to start a program for Minot’s senior citizens and base personnel who were away from their families during the holiday.

In recent years, Wagers said, the annual event has attracted roughly 200 senior citizens from Minot and area communities and involved about 80 airmen.

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