Serving the people who serve our country
BY MADDIE DRIGGERS
THANKSGIVING traditions usually center on family, turkey, and
football. Some Wilmington-area families celebrate the holiday a
little differently. They open their homes to Marines from Camp
Lejeune, the base about an hour north in Jacksonville.
Eight years ago, Port City Java CEO Steve Schnitzler inaugu-rated
Marines for Thanksgiving, a program that brings young men and women
fresh out of boot camp to Wilmington to share the holiday with a local family.
“It’s just a good way to say thank you,” Schnitzler says. “There’s always going to
be new, young folks stepping up to serve the country. All we’re asking is to serve
them a meal.”
The first year, Schnitzler chartered one bus and filled it with 55 Marines. The
program quickly grew, and in 2017, three buses came down with more than 150
Terry and Marty Clever are among the Wilmington families who make it an
“Through the years, there were different adventures,” Marty says. “Some
wanted to go to the beach, some wanted to go to Walmart, some wanted to just
stay here and call family and watch football. It’s their day and it’s whatever they
would like to do.”
COURTESY OF TERRY AND MARTY CLEVER
Staff and local volunteers prepared and
distributed meals for storm victims and first
responders after Hurricane Florence. After
leaving Wilmington, the organization went to
Florida to help after Hurricane Michael.
Terry and Marty Clever, with two Marines at Carolina Beach in 2015, have made
the Marines for Thanksgiving program a yearly tradition.