By ABC-7 Reporter Marissa Monroy
EL PASO — Serving those who serve on the front lines. That’s the idea behind the “Adopt a Soldier” program where local families open their homes to soldiers who can’t make the trip home.
This year, the Ramos familyand about 250 other Borderland families set an extra place at their Thanksgiving table.The dinners werecelebrations where families and soldiers shared not just a home cooked meal, but also stories from the front lines.
James Cleveland is hours away from his Albuquerque home and it’s an even longer trip up north for Utah native William Hurst. But this Thanksgiving, the army privates were part of a Borderland family. They’re only two of 250 soldiers who were adopted for the holiday.
“Eating some good grub and spending some time with family, it might not be my family, but it’s my family today,” said Cleveland.
Billie Ramos and her family have been taking in soldiers for five years now. “It’s important to showpeople in the military that we appreciate what they’re dong for us,” she said, adding the ‘Adopt a Soldier’ program is not just about the Thanksgiving feast.
Ramos told ABC-7 the program offers the soldiers an opportunity to share their experiences with local families. “It’s a lotta fun for young teenagers to hear the stories that the soldiers have for them,” said Ramos, “Being that they’re so young,they want know why they got into the army andwhat other people are doing in other parts of the country.”
Now, theprogram hasbecome a family tradition that haslived on through the years. “We’ve really become friends with past soldiers we’ve adopted and still keep in touch with them,” said Ramos. “If they need anything, we’re here for them.”
“It keeps us sane, it keeps us happy,” said Hurst. “It’s good to know that there really are people that appreciate what we’re doing.”