By Joseph P. Cirone
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling Public Affairs
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) partnered with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps Henry E. Mooberry Division and Project Giveback, a D.C. based food charity that helps feed needy families to ensure military families began the winter holiday season with joy.
Large boxes, stuffed with a week’s worth of food, including two chickens, a large turkey, fish, sausage, hamburgers, a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, two pumpkin pies, stuffing and other meal accessories, made up the “food baskets,” distributed before Thanksgiving to 125 National Capital Region military families, including 31 JBAB and JBAB tenant command families.
“Last year was the first time that Project Giveback reached out to military members – the result of efforts by [accounting firm] KPMG, LLP employee and Project Giveback board member, Edgar Jimenez, a retired Marine,” said Ens. Janice Lavioe, spokesperson for the Washington Navy Yard-based Sea Cadet unit, which trains at JBAB. “He knows firsthand that while the military and other organizations offer aid to military members in financial need, they are unable to help entirely.”
Coast Guard Lt. Michael Bell, executive officer of JBAB tenant command, Coast Guard Station Washington related, “In the current economic situation some folks find it difficult to observe the holidays as they had in the past.”
Audrey Cain, a mother and wife of a Naval Reservist, recently home from an active duty assignment, said, “Money is tight. When your spouse is gone, sometimes your income is not as high as when he is home working his normal job. The basket helps a lot. It will allow us to stay home and have dinner as a family instead of having to go to someone else’s home for dinner.”
Air Force Master Sgt. Carol E. Dorman of Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington said, “A lot of families need this kind of support. It is important that we reach out to help. They can use their money for other things and not worry about food.”
Relieves stress of service members
“It’s beautiful,” said Army Sgt. Tameka Payne of Ft. Meade, Md. They don’t have to worry about where they are going to get the money to purchase food, having to call a friend or not call, because they are embarrassed. This is a good thing.” Learning the baskets contained a week’s worth of food, Payne’s reaction was, “Wow! Now that will really make a Solider happy!
Army Sgt. 1st Class Gustavo Ruiz, also stationed at Ft. Meade, Md., explained the baskets were going to junior enlisted Soldiers with three or more children. “This is definitely going to help them.”
Coast Guard Personnel Service Center Command Master Chief Jack Goodhue, agreed. “In times when money is tight this is one way for us to look out for our people.” For Goodhue the outreach is also personal. “I was a recipient back in the day. I was struggling. I received a knock at the door and there was a basket, a box of food and I really appreciated it.”
The father of a young child, Coast Guard Mechanic 2nd Class Chris Hudson of Matthews, Va., said, “Everybody needs help. Some people are too proud to say something.” He said the cost of baby food, diapers, medical bills and other expenses makes it tough on junior members of the military. “I’ve been fortunate. But others may not be.”
Feeding the many
“We will combine the baskets with donations from individuals, unit food drives and donations from the religious ministries program to meet the needs of 500 junior enlisted Marines and Sailors, experiencing financial hardship, who have requested food assistance,” explained Rina Thomas of Marine Corps Family Teambuilding, a component of Marine Corps Community Services at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.
“It’s rewarding to see how much food goes into one box. There’s a lot of food,” said Lisa Feldmann of Ashburn, Va., a senior manager at KPMG. Feldmann, her husband, Brian and son, Matthew, volunteered to help the outreach effort by packing food boxes and helping at the JBAB distribution site. “It’s a great family tradition. I have been a volunteer with Project Giveback for eight or nine years now. “I want to expose my son to it so that he knows that we are here to help the community.”
Volunteering to help distribute the baskets, JBAB Air Force Senior Airman Jaclyn McDonald, said, “You never know when you might need help. It’s really cool to know that these families will be taken care of. It’s one less thing they have to worry about. It feels good to take stress away from some other family,” McDonald said.
Bell said, “The people getting these baskets and I appreciate the Naval Sea Cadets for coming out today and volunteering their time and helping us out like they did last year. It’s a great program!”
Sea Cadet Kendall Kent of Washington, D.C., said, “It makes me feel good to give out the baskets.”