By Brady Halbleib
RIO LINDA, California (KOVR) — A Rio Linda mother is making waves by ensuring that Thanksgiving is a special occasion for new cadets in South Carolina.
What started as a personal mission, has become a nationwide movement – bringing comfort to service members far from home.
Rio Linda mother Karrie Anderson is bridging the distance between her son and a warm Thanksgiving meal.
After her son joined the Navy, Anderson extended her service to not only her child but countless other service members stationed away from their homes.
“My husband jokes and says that when my son enlisted in the military, mom did too,” Anderson said.
For the past two years, Anderson has traveled to South Carolina with three suitcases of cooking ware.
Renting a home near the base, buying groceries and preparing a Thanksgiving feast for anyone craving a taste of home.
“In 2022, in just four days, we fed about 80 sailors,” Anderson said.
This year, more than 150 sailors showed up for a Thanksgiving meal. For many, it marks their first Thanksgiving away from family.
“Now it’s become a passion for me because the need is so great for them,” Anderson said.
Anderson’s son was shipped off to boot camp just two weeks after high school graduation in 2022.
Face with questions about what it’s like to have a child in the military, Anderson sought support groups.
Through social media, she discovered a community of mothers sharing the same experience.
“I ended up being the go-to mom for all of the questions,” Anderson said.
Last year’s Thanksgiving dinner caught the attention of other parents, inspiring her to start Bluebirds Take Flight – a non-profit organization aiming to support parents of service members, and also fundraising and sending care packages to service members across the country.
But at its core, it started with care and a warm cooked meal for the holidays.
“I feel like it means more to them that their children have a place to go and get a mom hug.”
Anderson said she hopes to expand her operation to other bases across the country.
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