By Chesley Oxendine
While most families gather in their homes for Thanksgiving dinner, Muskogee firefighters took up watch at the city’s six fire stations in order to keep those families safe.
And thanks to cleaning company ServiceMaster, on-duty firefighters received traditional Thanksgiving fare provided by Golden Corral.
In its fifth year delivering food to Muskogee firefighters on the holiday, ServiceMaster representatives traveled to all six stations with turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, rolls and dressing for more than 20 workers.
ServiceMaster marketer Jeff Mueller said serving food was a way to thank the firefighters for working on holidays.
“It’s a great thing,” Mueller said. “We just want to help them out. They’re out there protecting us, so we thought we should try to take care of them.”
The representatives also brought their children along to see the fire trucks and help deliver meals - and seeing the kids’ excitement proved Mueller’s favorite part.
“I love seeing the smiles,” he said. “Both on the firefighters and us.”
For rescue driver Clint Edwards, the meal was “an honor.”
“It’s much appreciated that others take time out of their holiday and come see us,” Edwards said. “It’s all good food, and a lot of food.”
Fellow firefighter and Border Street Station Captain Jim Hughes echoed the sentiment.
“We really appreciate it,” Hughes said. “I’m glad someone’s thinking about us. It’s a good feeling.”
He said he had received ServiceMaster’s meals before on holidays past, though he’d managed to avoid working on Thanksgiving the last “couple of years.”
“You work every third shift, and sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t,” Hughes said. “I’m used to it, and my wife’s used to this schedule.”
The captain said he looked forward to having food when he arrived home, as well.
His colleague Anthony Hollifield, five-year veteran firefighter, said he’d been receiving the meals for the last “three or four years.”
“I’ve worked almost every Thanksgiving since I’ve started,” Hollifield said. “It’s awesome and thoughtful that people think about us up here.”
Despite working away from their loved ones, the firefighters enjoy their time with their co-workers, too, Edwards said.
“This is our home away from home, and these guys are like a second family,” the rescue driver said. “We miss our kids and wives, but we make the best of it.”
Edwards’ family “made the best of it” by having their Thanksgiving dinner early.
“We knew I was going to have to work that day,so we had our dinner on Saturday,” he said.