Woman serves dinner to the troops while fighting her own battle against cancer
By Beth Velliquette
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, December 10, 2017
Marie Floyd rushed around from task to task as young military men and women and older veterans gathered to eat Christmas dinner at her church.
The dinner, held at Rose Hill Free Will Baptist Church on County Home Road, is the culmination of months of planning and work to give military people in the area a chance to sit down for a traditional dinner of turkey, ham, fried chicken, salad, yams, greens, and a choice of many types of pies, cookies or doughnuts for dessert.
The sit-down dinner was the idea of Floyd, and with the help of many volunteers and 49 sponsors, they made it a magical evening for their guests.
Staff Sgt. Laranda Boone, who lives in Greenville and is a member of the Army Reserve, said it was the second year she’d been invited to the dinner.
“I think it’s outstanding what Mrs. Marie does,” Boone said. “It’s really great and the people here at the church are very supportive of the Armed Forces in general, and they make us feel very welcome when we come.”
Luis Vazquez, a Marine from Cherry Point, came to the dinner with two vans full of Marines.
He’s not sure yet whether he’ll be able to go home for Christmas so he appreciates being able to come to the dinner.
“It’s pretty nice,” he said. “It’s done pretty well.”
The pies and desserts were displayed on a long row of tables the way they would be at a fancy hotel buffet, and there was plenty of food in the buffet lines for everyone who attended.
Floyd got the idea of hosting military people for dinner when she worked for the Pitt County Schools five years ago and her school was holding its Christmas party.
“I thought it would be awesome if we could invite some troops to the event,” she said. “I told them I wanted to do a good deed.”
Now the dinners are held at her church, and each year more and more military people have attended. About 100 members of the military from the Marines, Navy, Army, Army Reserve, the National Guard and veterans came to dinner this year.
Floyd keeps in touch with a number of Marines, who check in with her to check to see how’s she doing.
She’s been diagnosed with cancer, and she’s still fighting it, Floyd said.
“They stay in touch with me constantly,” Floyd said about her Marine friends. “They said they’re my guardian angels. It’s just breathtaking. I cry when I think about it.”
When it’s not Christmas time, Floyd is out finding sponsors to donate and cook the food for the buffet, and to donate gift cards or gifts.
“Without them I can’t do it,” she said. “I”m very grateful.”
This year’s guest of honor was retired Staff Sgt. Agbar, a huge dog who served four tours of duty in Afghanistan sniffing for bombs. He got lots of tummy rubs and a basket of treats.
Staff Sgt. Katherine Collins, who lives in Winterville and is a member of the Army Reserve in Wilmington, said it was her third dinner with Floyd.
“Miss Marie is amazing, and I just love how she supports the military,” Collins said.
Contact Beth Velliquette at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 252-329-9566.