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Foundation Provides Turkeys to Veterans

November 18, 2018

Volunteer Roi Armstrong, a member of Fitchburg State's Alumni Board, talks with Marines veteran Tommy O'Malley while carrying a turkey to his car on Saturday. SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE/MINA CORPUZ Sentinel and Enterprise staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

FITCHBURG -- Veterans and their families came to Fitchburg State University Saturday to receive a free Thanksgiving turkey from the Arrendono Family Foundation.

“It warms my heart,” said Diane Beaudoin, who came with her husband, Norman, who served in the Air Force in Vietnam. “It’s really a blessing with these type of events. It helps the veterans and it feels great.”

The Beaudoins were one of 80 families who received a turkey and a Market Basket gift card.

By noon, about 20 collected their 16-pound birds. Some came on their own, others came with their spouses or with children.

Volunteers from the foundation, FSU, and the Red Cross greeted the veterans and thanked them for their service.

Some wore hats or shirts with the branch of the armed forces they served featured.

When veterans and families opted to carry the turkey to their car on their own, the volunteers insisted that they help. Many of them obliged.

Tommy O’Malley, who served as a medic with the Marines in Vietnam, saw an article in the newspaper about the giveaway. He wasn’t sure if he would be able to receive a turkey if he didn’t sign up beforehand.

The foundation had extras available and gave O’Malley one.

“I’m glad I stopped by,” he said.

FSU alumni board member Roi Armstrong carried the turkey to O’Malley’s car and talked with him about his work at the university maintaining buildings.

Brian Malone, a board member for the foundation, said this is the second year it has partnered with Fitchburg State to host the giveaway.

“We started the partnership because of Fitchburg State’s many students and faculty and because they’re a veterans and military-friendly university,” he said.

The Arrendono Family Foundation helps military families and aims to prevent military-related suicides through support services.

As part of that partnership, the foundation looks to create an endowed scholarship at FSU next year, Malone said.

Carlos Arrendono, a co-founder of the organization, lost his son Alex, a U.S. Marine, in Iraq and son Brian to suicide. He and his wife, Melinda, run the foundation.

In 2013, Arrendono was at the Boston Marathon near the finish line when two bombs went off. He was photographed wearing a cowboy hat while helping rush survivor Jeff Bauman to help.

Follow Mina on Twitter @mlcorpuz

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