Members of Carrier Strike Group 4’s First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA) rolled up their sleeves to help people in need while donating their time at the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, Dec. 9, 2015.
Volunteers packed and boxed 130 bags of food into 26 cases to be delivered to 130 under privileged families in the Portsmouth area.
The four Sailors who participated had gracious reasons for getting involved.
“Even though we serve the nation as a whole, I think it’s important to serve people and specific causes,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Stephen Cooper. “There are many areas of the United States way of life that need to be specifically-addressed, such as the homeless, under privileged, jobless and homeless Vets, abused women and children, etc. Any chance to make a change in any of these areas should be taken by all who dare to care.”
“Being a Sailor in the Navy has afforded me and my family a decent living, so giving back to the community is just a simple way of helping out others,” said Yeoman 1st Class Maria Brown. “Although we can contribute in other ways, such as donating money or items, I believe taking the time out from an already hectic day, means a whole lot more. We all have busy lives but contributing your time to help lend a hand is a beautiful thing.”
“It is important to me that we serve our community in addition to serving our nation,” said Yeoman 1st Class James Gray. “I feel strongly that there are not enough positive role models around the world. I want to be out in the community helping people and representing the Navy. When our younger generation sees us out there, I think it teaches them to be more fortunate for what they have and helps give them a more selfless attitude. It feels good to be a part of something bigger. There are so many less fortunate people around the world. Some of these people are Veterans. My heart goes out to all under privileged people and families. I know anything I can do to assist, no matter how small, makes a difference!”
“As much as I love to wear my uniform, I know it’s not enough,” said Information Systems Technician 1st Class India Joseph. “I think it’s important to serve the community in this and many other ways, because without volunteers non-profit organizations, such as the Foodbank, have a hard time staying afloat. In turn, the community is negatively affected. I will not stand for that.”
The efforts of the FCPOA volunteers were welcomed and well-received.
“We take this opportunity to thank you for generously giving your time and support,” said Volunteer Coordinator Stephanie Gordon of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. “Your work has helped to provide many meals for individuals who are struggling in our community. Together, we can solve hunger.”
According to Gordon, nearly 6,000 volunteers give their time each year to support their effort to eliminate hunger.
“A third of our volunteers come from our military and armed forces. We cannot do what we do without volunteers,” said Gordon.
The FCPOA participates in many volunteer and community relations functions at various locations, such as the USS Wisconsin (BB 64) museum, the Good Mojo’s Thrift Store and the Salvation Army. The FCPOA is constantly looking for ways to improve moral, recognize excellence, as well as promote community involvement and togetherness. The group, which has hosted fundraisers for command events, has plans for more events for junior Sailors and has a call to action for others.
“We invite all those who wish to volunteer with us or on their own to take the opportunity to give back to the community. It costs nothing but time, and there’s nothing worse than wasted time that we’ll never get back,” said Cooper.
“We can make a difference,” said Brown. “We had four people volunteer in our group, yet in three short hours we were able to pack 130 bags. Can you only imagine if it were twice the size? I hope we can inspire someone to contribute their time, not only during the holiday season but throughout their lives.”
“Helping others brings a joy that is unlike any other,” said Gray. “We want to inspire humans to be a part of something greater. We do what we do because we care about people. It is people that make this country what it is. It is people who make sacrifices and put themselves aside for others. It is people who volunteer and would give the shirts off their backs to aide in the well-being of others they don’t even know. It is the good and ugly deeds of people that have the ability to continue to make this country a better place or to provide setbacks. We want to be part of the positive inspiration.”
“To us, volunteering is not an eval bullet or a pat on the back,” said Joseph. “We truly enjoy what we do for the community and make it a constant effort, which is why we also go to the Norfolk Zoo and Thrift Stores throughout Norfolk to ensure we’re a helping hand in more than one place.”
For more news from CSG-4, visit www.navy.mil/local/CSG4.
By Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Evans, Public Affairs Officer, Carrier Strike Group 4