FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Pay it back or pay it forward, whatever term is used it means the same and to a group of wounded warriors and Family members from the Warrior and Family Support Center, it was time to pay back for all the community has given for their support.

Bright and early Nov. 6, a group of 18 wounded warriors and Family members headed to the San Antonio Food Bank to say thank you for all the community has done on their behalf.

The San Antonio Food Bank is a non-profit organization that serves as a clearinghouse by receiving and storing truckloads of donated food, produce and other grocery products. SAFB distributes these items in manageable quantities to approximately 400 service agencies that help people in need.

The food bank's mission is, "To fight hunger in Southwest Texas through food distribution, programs, education and advocacy." That is what the group from WFSC set out to do, by preparing and gathering boxes of condiments, canned food, cereal, pasta and rice for local families in need. Once the boxes were filled they were stacked onto pallets for distribution.

Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Parnell said, "I'd do it again." Admittedly, he has a hard time remembering some things due to his injuries, but he stated, "I can remember numbers."
With his gift for numbers, Parnell cited that about 1.3 million pounds of food is given to 20 thousand families a month. All food is donated with 18 percent coming from rural areas and 20 percent from farmers. HEB and Wal-Mart (grocery stores) are the biggest contributors. HEB will donate as many as 30,000 turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Sgt. 1st Class Lou Lopez said, "It was really shocking, the numbers."

Sylvia Moore, a Soldier's mother said, "It made me feel great to help. I can't see very well, but I took the empty boxes over to be filled and sorted."

During the time the group was at the food bank it filled about six pallets, piled with more than 20 boxes per pallet.

The WFSC plans to pay it forward at the food bank quarterly, with the next trip planned for February.

Following the outing, the group gathered at the WFSC for pizza and beverages. All felt they had done a full day's work and were feeling good about what they had accomplished in the few short hours they spent at the food bank.

(Cheryl Harrison works at Fort Sam Houston Army Community Service, Marketing)