FALLBROOK, Calif. --
Marines and Sailors with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group volunteered at a charity event held by the Fallbrook Food Pantry in Fallbrook, California, Aug. 15, 2015.
The Fallbrook Food Pantry collects food donations from local businesses and redistributes it to families going through difficult situations.
“Everybody has to eat and we want to encourage the volunteer spirit,” said Navy Commander James Johnson, the chaplain for I MHG. “For about eight or nine months now, the Marines and Sailors have been coming here at least once a month, and sometimes more often, to package food and get it ready to be distributed to about 600 families in the Fallbrook area.”
Not only are the efforts of the volunteering Marines, Sailors and employees at the Fallbrook Food Pantry feeding families in need, but they also hope to encourage the children to be more determined in their pursuit of education, said Onelia Lopez, a board member from the Fallbrook Food Pantry.
With the back-to-school season rapidly approaching, a backpack drive was held in conjunction with food distribution. The organizers’ goal was to distribute 325 backpacks to families in attendance.
Each child left with a backpack full of school supplies and their families left with a bag of food.
Captain Elliot Parks, I MHG company commander, said he hopes the Marines and Sailors under his charge realize the importance of contribution and service to the community.
“Opportunities like this where we get to interact with the civilians that we serve, allows us to provide more of a service and puts a human face on what we do,” Parks added.
When the Fallbrook Food Pantry revived the event in 2013, the distribution goal was 319 backpacks. This year, they surpassed that goal by distributing 325 backpacks. The board members hope they can distribute more backpacks in the coming years, said Lopez.
“The event wouldn’t have been such a success if it had not been for the large group of employees and volunteers that were present,” said Lopez. “It leaves a positive impact on the employees and families who get to see the volunteering military personnel.”
Operations like this would not be possible without the commitment of members of the community and the military personnel who volunteer at the Fallbrook Food Pantry, said Lopez.
“It certainly adds to the overall perspective of the service members,” said Johnson. “Marines are known as warfighters, we got that, but to see them volunteering really augments the sense of that person’s commitment to country and their care for the people that they are defending.”
The Fallbrook Food Pantry focuses on aiding local children and families in need, and with the combined efforts of the service members and community volunteers, they continue to enrich the lives of those going through challenging times.