Quincy News

YMCA after-school program participants give thanks to veterans

Kady Schaefer, right, with the Quincy Family YMCA's after-school program, serves drinks to Iraq War veteran Edwin Martinez, left, and his family during the YMCA program's free spaghetti dinner for veterans Friday at Salem Evangelical United Church of Christ in Quincy. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 10, 2017 9:40 pm Updated: Nov. 10, 2017 10:48 pm

QUINCY -- The meal was simple -- spaghetti, green beans, garlic bread and frozen yogurt -- but it served its purpose of giving thanks to men and women who served.

Dozens of area veterans and their families arrived Friday evening at Salem Evangelical United Church of Christ, where a student from the Quincy Family YMCA's after-school program handed them cards thanking them for their service before another student would lead them to their tables.

Iraq War veteran Edwin Martinez was one of the younger veterans in attendance. He enjoyed the meal and liked seeing other veterans in attendance.

"It's nice to see the older guys out here," Martinez said.

He appreciated the patriotic program put on by the students that included singing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" and "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Floyd Leenerts, an Army veteran from the Korean War era, along with his wife, Joyce, enjoyed the table service the students offered. After they finished their meal and their plates were cleared, they were offered new plates of food.

The gratitude from the children is something Floyd Leenerts sees throughout the community.

"The whole community is really good showing their support, and so are local businesses," he said. "It's just nice to be recognized for our time in service. I never went overseas, but I did my time at Fort Leonard Wood."

Earlier this year, Leenerts went on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

It was the first time that the students with the YMCA's after-school program have hosted a spaghetti dinner for veterans.

Cristy Fuller, who coordinates the after-school program, said the dinner for Veterans Day was the idea of the program's student council and she is sure it will become an annual event.

"They wanted to help the community and serve, so the leadership team came up with the idea, and we just sort of ran with it," Fuller said. "Originally, we were just going to do garlic bread and spaghetti, but it turned into 'Maybe we need entertainment. We shouldn't do buffet-style. We should serve them.'

"As you can tell, they took it to heart. It's really cool."

All the ingredients for the meal, which the students helped prepare, was supported by the staff and members of the YMCA, and Menard's, Sam's Club and TCBY.

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