Every year, there are men and women who choose to serve their country over spending the holidays at home.
Some people, like Cory Matranga, are ensuring that no soldier is left behind this Thursday. Cory’s house is already set for a memorable holiday.
“It takes me about a month to get my house ready for the holidays,” Cory said.
She’s got the decorations, the food, and a very special guest list.
“They’re excited about being with family and feeling like they’re with family,” she said. “Even though it’s not their family.”
Thursday, two total strangers will enjoy a Thanksgiving meal at Cory’s house.
While most people would find this unusual, this is Cory’s 22nd consecutive year hosting people she doesn’t know for the holiday.
She welcomes them in for Operation Home Cooking: a program by the Lackland Air Force Base.
The program pairs airmen and basic trainees with local families on the holiday.
“This famous holiday, is, for the most part, is the first holiday they’re away from home,” said program coordinator Laurie Pozorski.
The day gives them a home away from home. And a quick break from the base’s strict training regimen.
“As soon as they see their host they start crying because they know it’s gonna be a decompression,” Laurie said.
“We buy them whatever they want,” said Cory. “hors-d'oeuvres, lunch, dinner, sweets all day.”
Cory knows how meaningful the day is, because before she was serving these hungry Airforcemen for the holidays she was one of them.
“I was a young airman back in the 70’s. My commander brought me to his house because I lived in the dorms, and so I always repaid that in the military,” she said.
And while Cory hasn’t met Thursday’s guests yet, she refuses to call them strangers.
“It’s like we’ve become new friends with these people. A military friend is a friend for life.”
Cory says she will continue volunteering with Operation Home Cooking until she “absolutely can’t.”