Fort Bragg, N.C. - A flat tire or an unexpected home repair can put a strain on even the most budget-conscious person's finances, especially if it comes towards the end of a pay period. While these costs may simply be an annoyance to some, to others it can mean the difference between feeding their family and going hungry until their next paycheck.

Paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division have become accustomed to steady deployments and the extra pay that comes with it, said Lt. Col. Jack Stumme, the 82nd Airborne Division chaplain.

Soldiers were incorporating that money into their budgets. With fewer deployments Soldiers have more opportunities to spend money and it's easy to get behind and not know it, Stumme said.

Add on any unexpected financial issues and the Soldier may not be able to support himself or his family.

To battle this issue, the Division's chaplains began the Paratrooper Assistance Pantry. Located in the 82nd Airborne Division chaplain's building, the pantry is stocked with shelf-stable food items and childcare supplies donated by Soldiers and family members.

Any Soldier or family member can contact their unit's chaplain or chaplain assistant and they will be given access to the pantry and receive enough food for two days' worth of meals.

"This is primarily for Division Paratroopers, but as chaplains we're going to take care of all Soldiers," Stumme said.

The food drive and pantry has been a long tradition within Division, but its emphasis has taken a backseat due to constant deployments.

With help from the Division's Family Readiness Group members and many selfless donations, the pantry is once again filling up and waiting for Soldiers in need.

"It's people helping people; the 82nd family helping 82nd families," he said.

Blue totes are on site at the Division chapel and every Brigade chapel for donations, but a majority of items have come to the pantry via company-level food drives. Paratroopers with D Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, with the help of their FRG leader Allyson Peck, donated more than 500 cans of food to the pantry.

"It's a great cause and we're helping our own," said D Company, 3-82 GSAB commander Capt. Kimberly Shelton. "If any of our Soldiers fall on hard times, they know where to go."

"The chaplain's office is a refuge for Soldiers. Everything is confidential and the pantry is the same way," said Laurie Stewart, liaison between the division chaplains and the Division FRG and wife of chaplain Maj. Mark Stewart.

Laurie said it is very important that paratroopers know that when they have nowhere else to turn, they have somewhere to seek assistance and they don't have to feel embarrassed about it. "It's direct contact, face-to-face and personal, like caring for Family," she said.

For assistance or to make a donation, contact your unit's chaplain or chaplain assistant or stop by the Division chaplain's office at building C-5333 on Ardennes Street on Fort Bragg.

Page last updated Mon June 10th, 2013 at 11:53