Volunteers from Sinai Temple in Sandy Springs and other organizations served a hot meal in the USO lounge at the Hartsfield-Jackson airport
ATLANTA — For military service members traveling through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, a special treat was waiting in the United Service Organizations (USO) Lounge.
Volunteers from local community organizations, including Temple Sinai in Sandy Springs, were on-hand to serve up a hot meal with a side of holiday cheer.
One of the volunteers was Neil Hytowitz. He told 11Alive’s Karys Belger he’s volunteered with his family for more than 20 years. Even though his synagogue is heavily involved and helps organize things every year, Neil and his parents have a special connection to this service project.
“My brother was in the service in the Georgia National Guard for many years and so, we felt like it was a great way to give back,” he said.
Normally, the food would be served buffet style. However, the COVID -19 pandemic meant volunteers had to serve each plate individually. Yet, Hytowitz said he’s glad he was simply able to volunteer in-person this year.
“Last year, my father and I just dropped off food, instead of being actually here because of COVID and everything,” he explained. “Now with COVID, we’ve got certain protocols that we’ve followed and we have to serve anybody that comes through.”
The meal came courtesy of local businesses, and money from Temple Sinai and the USO. Hytowitz explained it takes at least 30 minutes to get everything set up.
However, one thing he’s noticed is the change in the travelers who occasionally make a stop in the lounge.
“This area used to be filled with men and women in uniform every year and now it’s filled with families which is pretty neat,” he added.
Christmas Eve is not the only day for this special holiday meal. Volunteers will be back on Christmas Day and everyone who comes in can expect a special visit from Santa Claus.