Marines help feed homeless veterans for Thanksgiving

Group of Marines team up with St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in West Palm Beach to feed homeless veterans
Posted at 6:37 PM, Nov 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-24 22:20:45-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Ryan Onda was among the volunteers at St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church, taking boxes of Thanksgiving meals from the church kitchen.

"This is our first trip of the year," Onda said. "I love Thanksgiving."

You couldn't miss Onda's group, the Semper Fi Service Dogs. They arrived in a camouflaged Humvee with Onda, two other Marines and three service dogs.

The group loaded Thanksgiving meals into the Humvee and brought dinners to homeless vets in West Palm Beach.

"A lot of these people are very down and out," Onda said as he drove down Okeechobee Boulevard. "They're on their last legs. And we just want to lift them up a little bit and give them some hope."

Onda's group helped deliver about 30 of the more than 1,200 meals prepared by volunteers at the church.

These were no ordinary Thanksgiving meals.

"We have a number of retired restauranteurs, and they have time, and they're enthusiastic about doing this project," George Matsoukas said.

Matsoukas raved about the gourmet quality of the stuffing and noted that the turkeys are seasoned by pros.

The meals are cooked by chefs who feed thousands at the church's annual Greek Festival.

Matsoukas said those who receive the food deserve a quality meal on Thanksgiving.

"I've been homeless," Ryan Onda said.

He said he struggled to adjust to civilian life after his stint with the Marines.

"I've been through it all," Onda said. "So there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We just do want to show everyone that."

On most days, Onda and his partners train service dogs for veterans.

On Thanksgiving, he said, getting food to vets and their families finishes his holiday mission.

"Giving to the homeless period on Thanksgiving is just the right thing to do," Onda said. "I think everyone ought to be out there doing something."