Thousands of Soldiers and their Families were treated to a picnic during the Marne Independence Day Celebration on Fort Stewart by the by the Hinesville Military Affairs Committee and their community partners.

A meal large enough to feed an army was coordinated and prepared for the event; which included support from the installation's Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation and their sponsors, adding music, games, information booths and displays to create a festive environment.

HMAC event coordinator, P.J. Schneider, said the community helped provide more than 6,000 free meals in support of Soldiers and their Families, including about 2500 pieces of chicken, 750 barbeque sandwiches, 2500 hotdogs, and 1500 Bratwurst.

The event required significant planning and support.

Schneider said HMAC started coordinating more than three months prior to the event. Adding they began picking up food about three weeks prior. He said some of the items required to be kept cold, so they started gathering that within the week of the event; storing items in a refrigeration truck.
Many community businesses and organizations joined HMAC in providing resources.

"George Baptist Disaster Relief and Hinesville Faith Baptist provided about 1,000 pork chop meals, Schneider said. Additional resources were provided by Hinesville Bank, Popeye's, Bo jangles, Coca-Cola, Food Lion, Lowes, McDonalds and Panera Bread, Pizza Hut and Dominoes. He said Georgia Southern University, the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, GeoVista, the Association of United States Army, DFMWR and others also helped gather additional resources to ensure the events success.

"They all came together in support of Soldiers and their Families," Schneider said. "We wanted to show how much we appreciate them."

He added local veteran's organizations were instrumental in the events success.

He said veterans volunteered from the two American Legion organizations from Liberty County, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Disable American Veterans.
But bad weather threatened to put a damper on the picnic before the meal started.

He said one of the challenges the community had to face was the probability of significant wind and rain, which required relocating the meal from a festival tent to nearby Newman Fitness Center.

"The support we received from MWR and the garrison command to help move the meal over to Newman Gym was just incredible."