‘Thanksgiving Reality Show’ aims to help military families abroad

Written by Staff Writer

It’s the first Thanksgiving for the Wilson family, but the experience isn’t exactly what they anticipated.

They just moved from San Francisco to Charlottesville, Virginia. Little did they know that six years ago, many fellow Americans also moved, and they were trying to experience Thanksgiving at the same time — one community at a time.

Each Thanksgiving Eve, CNN, the American Red Cross and the hashtag #ThanksgivingRealityShow ask hundreds of people to respond to a post asking them if they’re “ready for Thanksgiving in the US.” The aim is to help service members overseas make Thanksgiving special, by extending families across the globe.

Starting in 2012, CNN has been documenting the “Thanksgiving Reality Show” over the past five years as volunteers show up to help bring families together.

This year, when CNN visited the Wilksons in Charlottesville, Virginia, relatives and the community were uniting for an extended Thanksgiving weekend.

But it’s not the meals or time together that has caused the emotions to run high.

Alex Wilson, who moved to the US with his wife and daughter, stood outside his hotel in front of a sign which simply read “Wake Up 2017 For You.”

“I’m emotionally overwhelmed. (We) are just totally overcome with emotion,” Wilson said.

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