The aroma of a savory Thanksgiving feast wafted through the lounge area and permeated the air of the Iron Mike Conference Center as 225 single Soldiers laughed, dined and shared a holiday meal at their home away from home Nov. 14.

The annual Thanksgiving meal was hosted by Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) for unmarried, geo-bachelors and single-parent service members in the garrison. During the feast, members of the Fort Bragg senior leadership staffed the serving lines and filled the plates of Soldiers with Thanksgiving delights “to give back and show their appreciation,” according to Jennifer Fayson, BOSS advisor.

The holiday meal was not all food and camaraderie. Soldiers who attended also stood the chance to win raffle prizes. Fayson said the total value of the prizes given away that afternoon was $2,000.

“A lot of times this is the first time these single Soldiers have been away from home for the holidays — and that’s a hard time of the year,” she said. “So if we can get them together and show them that we as a community support time, then that’s something we can do to make their holidays better.”

Gatherings like the BOSS Thanksgiving directly affect Soldiers’ morale and combat readiness, Fayson said, because if the Soldiers are happy, they will be ready to serve.

“It’s important, especially these times during Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season, to show that we are here for them and that we are a family here at Fort Bragg,” she said.

Echoing Fayson’s sentiments is Senior Airman Almuthahana Byrd, BOSS secretary. She said BOSS wants to give single Soldiers a home away from home.

“It builds morale by giving them a space to hang out without being at work and food — which makes everybody happy,” Bryd said.

Being a committee member of BOSS, Byrd said it feels good to see the Soldiers who attended the free dinner have a good time. She hopes they will spread the good word on BOSS and the activities surrounding the program to their peers.

“It feels good to know that we’re helping them live better lives just by giving away food,” she said.