Algonquin Parish Hosts Sailors on Thanksgiving
December 6, 2018
ALGONQUIN—For the sixth year, St. Margaret Mary  Parish Knights of Columbus Council 11091 here have hosted a Thanksgiving Day dinner in McDonnell Hall for about 40 men and women recruits at Naval Station Great Lakes, located in Lake County.
The station is home to the United States Navy's only boot camp. About 54,000 Navy recruits pass through this facility annually for seven to nine weeks of intensive training. 
During this time the recruits have limited communication with the world outside of the camp, including no verbal communication with family. 
On Thanksgiving, recruits are bussed from Great Lakes to St. Margaret Mary Parish where they meet an escort of police and fire vehicles at the city limits of Algonquin. 
The Knights cook and serve a full Thanksgiving meal, with turkey and all the sides of a typical family holiday feast. 
Each table is set with handmade placemats provided by the students of St. Margaret Mary School along with a pile of candy, which the recruits eagerly devoured as they are not allowed sweets during boot camp. 
The Knights also provide the recruits with laptops and cell phones to contact their families since they have no access to  phones or computers during their training. 
Several local merchants that had provided food in years past are no longer in business, which left the Knights short on donations. 
To help make up the difference, St. Margaret Mary parishioners donated food and helped staff the event. 
The Knights also welcomed anyone to stop by to spend time visiting with the young sailors who are preparing to serve our country. 
Parishioners responded well beyond expectations, and there was enough food to feed the 45 Navy recruits who arrived at the parish this year. 
The feast began with appetizers of 400 assorted chicken wings along with carrots and celery. 
For the main course, they cooked 10 turkeys, baked two hams, and had an abundance of side dishes including stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, corn, baked beans and cranberry sauce. 
There were rolls with butter, and a 16-foot long dessert table filled with pies, cakes, cookies, ice cream and other baked goods. 
Two and a half hours after the dinner, the recruits were able to fill up again before leaving for the day. 
Several parish families also stayed during the entire event to help cook and prepare food, clean up, and sit with the recruits to help ease the sadness of being away from home for the holiday by making them feel that they were part of the parish family. 
At the end of the day, the recruits expressed their gratitude through individual personal messages and with a rousing rendition of “Anchors Away” from the entire group. 
Donors to the dinner were Algonquin businesses Buffalo Wild Wings, The Texan Bar-B-Q, River Bottom Ice Cream, Georgia’s Restaurant & Pancake House, and Biaggi’s Risotrante Italiano; Assembly American Bar and Cafe, Hoffman Estates; Piece-A-Cake Bakery, East Dundee;  Barrington Transportation Company, Barrington; and the Algonquin Police and Fire Departments. 
— Dan Kotleba, Grand Knight of Council 11091