November 12, 2014 --
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A radio is playing music through a portable speaker and the smell of onions fills the air of the worn down warehouse where volunteers spend their spare time seven days a week. From the outside, the building looks abandoned and graffiti covers the surrounding areas making it obvious that this neighborhood isn’t the most fortunate. It is a neighborhood that is located in the second most poverty stricken city in America. There is a small sign on the door that says ‘Helping Hands Food Pantry’ and a very welcoming gentleman just on the other side of it.
According to the Helping Hands Food Pantry’s website, their mission is “to serve, by providing a place where those in need can come for relief from hunger and find acceptance, while being assisted in finding other resources for their needs, both physical and spiritual.”
They serve more than 10,000 men, women and children every week and have about 340 volunteers every week.
“The volunteers come from the local colleges, high schools, churches and the neighborhoods that benefit from this program,” said Veronica Roman, volunteer.
Marines from the Combat Center had the opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering at Helping Hands. They bagged food and loaded it onto a food truck that stops around the city in six different locations to provide homeless people with nutritious food.
Lance Cpl. Brandon Taylor, Headquarters Battalion, Alpha Company, administrative specialist, was one of the Marines that volunteered through the Single Marine Program.
“I am bagging food for the homeless for the holidays to help out the community. I feel that, since I’m not deployed, that I should give back my time,” said Taylor.
The SMP offers many opportunities similar to the Helping Hands Pantry and is located at The Zone aboard the Combat Center.
Active duty single Marines are eligible for all events. If you have any questions or would like more information about other events, please contact The Zone at (760) 830-8454.