ASYMCA holiday food drive Soldiers help 750 during annual event

Lyhn Estrada, right, El Paso’s Miss Patriotic Teen 2017, helps distribute holiday groceries at the Trading Post here Nov. 21. Volunteers from many groups, agencies and military units joined the Armed Services YMCA of El Paso for their 2017 holiday food drive. Photos by David Poe, USAG Fort Bliss Public Affairs.

Lyhn Estrada, right, El Paso’s Miss Patriotic Teen 2017, helps distribute holiday groceries at the Trading Post here Nov. 21. Volunteers from many groups, agencies and military units joined the Armed Services YMCA of El Paso for their 2017 holiday food drive. Photos by David Poe, USAG Fort Bliss Public Affairs.

By David Poe, USAG Fort Bliss Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 30, 2017)

There are 2,154 miles between Pfc. Dakota Clymer’s grandmother’s house in Sherburne, New York, and the Trading Post at Fort Bliss, but on Nov. 21, those places weren’t far apart.

The Team Bliss Soldier joined troops from across the installation in giving back during the 23rd annual Armed Services YMCA of El Paso Thanksgiving food drive. With help from groups post wide, the effort gave away turkeys and canned sides to 750 troops and families in thanks for their continued service and to help save them money this holiday season.

Joe Pritchard, the ASYMCA El Paso executive director, said that organizing the annual drive is one of many things his group looks forward to every year.

“We’re so thankful to get this opportunity,” he said. “Our motto is ‘strengthening our military family’ and this is one of the numerous ways we do that throughout the year. We have 32 events and activities that we run.”

Pritchard mentioned the local military chaplains, the American Red Cross, the Fort Bliss Commissary and the Fort Bliss Spouses Association, among other groups, as teams that were also instrumental in making the day a success.

Team Bliss Soldiers volunteer at the 23rd Armed Services YMCA of El Paso holiday food drive at Fort Bliss Nov. 21. Soldiers were some of the many volunteers who worked together to make the annual event a success.

“There have been a lot of Soldiers here to volunteer – leaders bringing their Soldiers,” said Pritchard, “and that’s really made this ‘Soldiers helping Soldiers.’ The families are giving back to one another as well, so it’s good.”

Two days before what would be only her second Thanksgiving away from home, Clymer hauled frozen turkeys with fellow troops in the name of family who had made her prior holidays so great. Now a Soldier, she said she is ready to pay it forward and taking part in the food drive was another way to do just that.

“It feels good helping other people for a change,” Clymer said. “Being on my own, it’s nice to have that opportunity.”

The ASYMCA of El Paso, 7060 Comington St., provides many programs to meet the needs of military service members and their families. The ASYMCA is a national organization, and there are 13 branches in nine states throughout the country, as well as 20 affiliate branches, but the El Paso branch is unique with three outreach centers across Fort Bliss.

For more information, visit www.asymca.org.