For many, Thanksgiving is a time of enjoying family, reflecting and doing goodwill. The Los Angeles Chargers brought that goodwill to a whole lot of families on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Teaming up with the Veterans Advocacy Group of America and ROKIT, the Chargers organization, reflected from the appearances of team president of football operations John Spanos, players Cardale Jones, Virgil Green, and Artavis Scott, former NFL great Shawne Merriman and members of the Chargers cheerleaders, made a big splash at Bob Hope Patriotic Hall as they served 350 veterans and their families with early Thanksgiving dinner.
In an interview with team reporter, Hayley Elwood, Spanos said the Veterans Advocacy Group of America’s Thanksgiving Appreciation Dinner was a great way for the franchise to show their support for veterans.
“The Chargers believe so strongly in supporting our military and appreciating veterans and all that they do for us,” said Spanos, according to the website Chargers.com. “Whenever an opportunity arises to do something for them (like) serve them Thanksgiving dinner, we’re happy to do it.”
For Spanos, saluting the military has a special meaning behind it. His grandfather, Alex Spanos, who took over controlling interest of the team as majority owner in 1984, was a World War II B-29 tail gunner in the United States Air Force. Alex Spanos passed away in October.
“My grandfather served in the Air Force during World War II, and really he lived the American dream after his time serving and he always had great love for this country and for supporting the military,” John Spanos said. “He really kind of set that tone, for not just our family, but for the whole Chargers organization. So, it’s something that’s instilled in all of us and that we’re happy to carry on.”
Besides getting a good, hearty meal, veterans received free phones as well. ROKIT passed out 150 free phones during the event.
“It was so exciting to put this event on with the Chargers. To be able to be in the community where the local team wants to take their time, effort and energy and money to give back to the locals, that is what we’re about here at ROKIT,” said ROKIT founder John-Paul DeJorta. “So we’re giving everybody a ROKIT phone with talk and text for the next year free, plus they get to keep the phone.”
Green, the Chargers tight end, had his own military hero at home, so he knows the sacrifices these individuals make all too well.
“My dad was in the Army,” he said. “He was in the Army for 10 years. I remember growing up as a kid watching him doing the PT and things like that and I was always proud of my dad for the things that he has done for our country. To get out here and give back, it always brings joy to your heart.”