Soldiers assigned to the Air Defense Artillery Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, at Fort Bliss take some time out of their busy day to volunteer at the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry in El Paso. Photos by Jonathan LeBlanc / Fort Bliss Bugle Staff.
By Jonathan LeBlanc, Fort Bliss Bugle Staff:
(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 14, 2017)
Soldiers assigned to the Air Defense Artillery Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, at Fort Bliss took some time out of their busy day to volunteer at the Kelly Memorial Food Pantry in El Paso Friday.
The pantry, which serves roughly 1,800 to 2,000 families monthly, gets its food mostly from the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank. It is a supplemental source of nutritional food for people in need.
“We have a core of about 50 to 60 volunteers right now,” said Mary Beth Harper, executive director of the Kelly Memorial Food Bank.
A lot of volunteer work involving food drives and helping those facing hard times happens around Thanksgiving, but the unit decided it was equally important to contribute after the holiday.
Maj. Jeffery Belcourt said the weather is getting colder and the volunteer work is about helping those in need at this time of year.
Belcourt said he sees this issue as going beyond just individuals in need within the local community, but within the military ranks as well.
“There is a saying that goes, ‘the Army is a microcosm of society,’ and that being said, Fort Bliss is like a microcosm of El Paso, and it’s unfortunate, but we have Soldiers who are also struggling this time of year,” Belcourt said.
Volunteering is a reminder that it goes so much further then just getting your name out there, Belcourt said.
“It’s also taking care of your community,” Belcourt said. “We are hoping by doing this that we can not only contribute, but also let people know that there is no stigma to looking for help and acknowledging that you are struggling.”
For some of the Soldiers, this was not their first time volunteering. Sgt. 1st Class Lennon Jones said he has volunteered for various food drives throughout the years.
“At one point my family was going through hard times, so I have no problem coming out to support those experiencing difficulties and giving back,” Jones said. “Doing this type of volunteering shows those who may have never seen people struggling before what it’s really like and it also shows our younger Soldiers about responsibility.”
For more information on volunteering, donating or if you are in need of help, visit http://www.kellymemorialfoodpantry.com or call 216-7499.