Volunteer military team helps children’s backpack program

February 10, 2016

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

A group of 15 representing Dover Air Force Base volunteered yesterday at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch.

With big smiles and helping hands, they packed backpacks for one of our children’s nutrition programs, and unanimously agreed they had a great time doing it.

0209_DAFB02One in five Delaware children live in poverty, so the Backpack Program is a lifeline for many of them. Backpacks provide children with food for the weekend and holidays when federal school meal programs are not available. The plastic bags of shelf-stable meals are distributed discreetly at 128 schools statewide before each weekend and school holiday.

At one end of the assembly line was Staff Sgt. Damien Sawyer, a security officer who hails from New Orleans, La. He said he enjoys “volunteering to help the community,” and encourages others to do the same.
Working through his chain of command, he was permitted to send out an email to the entire base to recruit today’s volunteer team.

Sr. Airman Thomas Woodruff, a firefighter from California, signed up, saying that Tuesday’s stint was his third time volunteering at the Food Bank.

Both these service members also help the community in other ways: Sgt. Sawyer goes to Washington, D.C. once a month with his church to “feed the less fortunate,” and Airman Woodruff participated in the Martin Luther King Day observance.

At the other end of the backpack assembly line, Sgt. Misty Skiles, a security officer from West Virginia, said she had previously volunteered for the Food Bank last summer.

“I enjoy doing things for kids, especially kids in need,” she said.

Capt. Chris Goertz, his wife, Melissa, and their two children, also pitched in; their children packed food items, while the parents folded activity sheets that are placed in the backpacks.

“I signed up,” said Capt. Goertz, an Ohio native, “and my family wanted to come and volunteer.”

The Food Bank of Delaware distributes about 4,800 backpacks each week to school children statewide. West Seaford Elementary School receives the most backpacks, 281, or nearly a whole pallet every week.

Volunteers make this program possible. For more information about how to volunteer, visit www.fbd.volunteerhub.com. Online sign up is also available.

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