Veterans eat for free in Tinley Park
By Casey Toner firstname.lastname@example.org September 25, 2011 7:40PM
Richton Park resident Jeff Hotter takes advantage of the free food given out during the Veterans' Appreciation Picnic Sunday at St. Julie Billiart Roman Catholic Church. | Casey Toner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2011 1:50PM
Military veterans from throughout the Southland were treated to free food Sunday at St. Julie Billiart Roman Catholic Church in Tinley Park.
The third annual Veterans’ Appreciation Picnic was held at the church, 7399 W. 159th St.
Set up inside the church hall, the dining tables were decorated with American flag drawings and patriotic colors. Volunteers served food out of a corner kitchen.
There also was a raffle, with proceeds benefiting the Tinley Park Veteran’s Parkway.
About 100 veterans dined on hot dogs, hamburgers, polish sausages, vegetable and fruit salads and desserts. Parishioners donated the goods.
“They responded well if you look at the dessert table,” said Helen Ross, who sits on the church’s core committee.
Richton Park resident Jeff Hotter, 64, was one of the veterans who took the church up on the offer. Hotter served in the Navy from 1966 to 1969.
“This didn’t start till 1 p.m. and the Chicago Bears don’t start until 3 p.m.,” Hotter said.
Hotter served on the USS Frank E. Evans, a ship that an Australian aircraft carrier cut in half in a collision in 1969.
Hotter said he just started getting involved with other veterans. He said he attended a USS Frank E. Evans reunion in Iowa earlier this month.
“I thought it would be devastating because I’m a survivor,” Hotter said, adding he has trouble sleeping at night because of the traumatic event. “It helped out a lot.”
Hotter, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8077 in Homewood, said he planned to attend the reunion again next year.
He said he enjoyed the royal treatment from the church. When he came back from the war, he certainly didn’t receive it at that time.
“Our war was the forgotten war,” Hotter said. “We had no ticker-tape parades or any of that crap. Now with Iraq and Afghanistan, America has woken up and I appreciate it.”