Firefighters surprise down-on-his-luck veteran with Thanksgiving feast

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A group of Providence firefighters went above and beyond the call of duty this week to make sure a man who tended to the needs of others had a special Thanksgiving.

The firefighters didn’t want any publicity for what they did, but the Army veteran they helped contacted Eyewitness News to make sure their act of kindness didn’t go unnoticed.

Roger Bergeron fell on some hard times. He was without a home for several years and was recovering from an injury.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to smile and laugh about anything,” he said.

Bergeron just got a new apartment, and on Saturday the former Army medic called 911 for chest pains. Lt. Tim Gingell, Firefighter Rob Bruyere and a few others responded.

“We noticed he had no kitchen table, chairs,” Gingell recalled.

After taking Bergeron to the hospital, the firefighters hatched a Thanksgiving plan.

“He seemed like a real genuine guy, down on his luck,” said Bruyere. “It’s the holiday season, that’s what the holidays are all about.”

Holiday Guide: Thanksgiving travel, weather, recipes and more »
Holiday Guide: Thanksgiving travel, weather, recipes and more »

Bergeron was back at home recovering Tuesday when suddenly a fire truck pulled up outside his house.

“He was a little surprised to see us,” said Bruyere with a laugh.

The firefighters came right in and built him a kitchen table, then brought in the Thanksgiving feast: a 24-pound turkey and all the fixings.

“I haven’t been this happy in years,” said Bergeron. “I’m shocked and amazed. My smile, it’s still on my face, and I can’t pull it off anymore.”

“It kind of came full circle,” added Bruyere. “He helped people for years, and it was time to give him a hand.”

Bergeron said he now has a few friends coming over for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. He had a message for the people he calls his angels.

“I haven’t stopped smiling,” he said. “I haven’t stopped telling people about this, and I want you to know you’re extremely special in my life.”

The firefighters said they reached out to a few businesses who donated much of what they gave to Bergeron. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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