COLUMBUS, Ga. -- Overcast skies and intermittent rain did not deter Fort Benning, Georgia, Officer Candidate School students from distributing food donations Feb. 16 to families in need from the surrounding community.
Approximately 80 students from Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 11th Infantry Regiment, in partnership with the Midland Feeding the Valley Food Bank and Columbus Community Warriors Incorporated, gathered in the parking lot of Columbus Ace Furniture and Decor in support of the event, which lasted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Rows of cars lined up to receive food donations, with some families arriving as early as 4 a.m. OCS students went from car to car with forms to document the number of family members, which helped determine the amount of food each family would receive. Those forms were delivered to another set of students who sorted and bagged the appropriate number of food items per household before delivering the food to the cars.
Approximately 30,450 pounds of food consisting of instant potatoes, cheese, blueberries, peaches, lentils, chicken thighs, peas, assorted bakery and cereal items, and milk were donated to approximately 1,000 households, according to Steve Watson, Feeding the Valley Food Bank's director of operations.
"Having a food drive of this size with the participation from Fort Benning was helpful and made it so much easier," Watson said. "Just having them continually be involved is pretty awesome."
"All the students out here volunteered to serve the Army, and their selfless service is not just only in uniform but it's out of uniform and on their off time," said Capt. Michael Greene, an OCS instructor.
One student, Officer Candidate Karessa White, said she knows firsthand what an event like this can mean to the community.
"I'm from Jacksonville, Florida, where there are a lot of homeless people, so I understand the need," White said. "It's a huge burden on the city, and there are organizations who have access to food and things to give away but just need someone to organize an event and take care of it."
White ran for and was voted as her class's volunteer coordinator and collaborated with Feeding the Valley Food Bank and Community Warriors on the event, which she was glad to see come to fruition.
"It feels great to see all of the officer candidates excited about helping," White said. "People seem appreciative of getting the things that they need."