FORT BENNING, Ga. (Nov. 8, 2018) - The 3rd Battalion, 81st Armored Regiment, held a food drive for the Battle Buddy Resource Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, delivering non-perishable goods to the center Nov. 8.

Soldiers, Family members, joined the food drive ahead of the Thanksgiving and winter holidays so that fewer Soldiers and their Families would be in need.

The Battle Buddy Resource Center is a nonprofit organization that opened in 2013. The center collects shelf-stable food and the center personnel give the food to any Department of Defense ID cardholder, including military servicemembers, retirees, civilians and their Family members.

Amy Mason and her daughter Amber Hahn co-direct the Battle Buddy Resource Center, which is run entirely through volunteerism. Their motto is "combatting hunger one can at a time," and they help 10 Families a month, according to Mason. Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, they are putting together bags of non-perishable goods to help Families put together a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

"We are doing 209 bags for Thanksgiving, and we're hoping to do the same for our Christmas giveaway," said Mason. "We're a little over halfway there for getting them packed now.

"Donations like this are what matters," continued Mason of the 3-81st food drive. "This is what keeps us going right now."

"These are people that need our help because they help our Soldiers," said Lt. Col. Nathan Palisca, commander of 3-81st, of the resource center. "I can't think of a much more worthy cause than that with so many of our Soldiers that are struggling, especially around the holidays. Supporting the Battle Buddy Resource Center was a no-brainer for that reason."

Soldiers and their Families can find themselves in difficult situations for a variety of reason, and Palisca addressed why an organization like the Battle Buddy Resource Center can help fulfill a sudden need.

"There's all kinds of reasons that people could find themselves in hard times," said Palisca. "It could be medical emergencies, it could be Family problems. It could just be the cost of PCSing from one place to another is expensive as you uproot your life and go from one place to another."

When 3-81st Command Sgt. Maj. Ronald Polk heard about the mission of the resource center, he felt it imperative that his unit help.

"It really fits the motto of 'Soldier for Life'," said Polk. "They don't just help out active-duty Soldiers, they help out the Guard, the Reserve. They help out retirees, DA civilians. Once I heard that, I just had to somehow provide some kind of support to it, be connected to it."

The Soldiers unloaded bags of canned and boxed goods, which they set out onto empty tables within the center.

Palisca said that the tablefuls of canned goods was the work of 30 to 50 people, and he hoped to increase the number of volunteers and donators and increase the goods they are able to provide the center.

"Like the managing team here said, it's easy to get people to give around the holiday, but people are hungry all year round, need happens all year round," said Palisca. "We're hoping that this is the first of several opportunities throughout the year that we'll have to support the Battle Buddy Resource Center."

The center's resources are open to any military ID cardholder - military servicemember, retiree, Department of Defense civilian, their Family members - as long as they receive a referral from a chaplain. Anyone in need can talk to their chaplain or can talk to the Religious Support Office if they are uncertain whom their chaplain is.

"The chaplain's the doctor, and we're the pharmacy," said Mason. "We just fill the referral. And it's completely confidential."

The Battle Buddy Resource Center is moving locations with a planned opening at their new location at the corner of Vibbert Avenue and Hall Street early next year.

The Battle Buddy Resource Center's current location at 7200 Anderson Street, Bldg. 488, is open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesdays from noon to 2 p.m. and Thursdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. The center takes any donation that is unopened and non-perishable. Those wishing to donate may also call the center to find out whether there are certain items that the center needs more than others, which is especially the case ahead of the holiday season.

Besides 3-81st, the center has received goods from units and Families that are permanently changing station and are divesting of their canned goods, from military spouse organizations, from individuals, from schools on post, and from companies off post such as Liberty Utilities. They also receive support from Feeding the Valley Food Bank in Midland, Georgia.

To learn more about the Battle Buddy Resource Center, Soldiers may call their unit chaplain or call the Religious Support Office at 706-545-7059. To contact a staff duty chaplain, call the Fort Benning staff duty officer at 706-545-2218.