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WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- Members of the 599th Transportation Brigade volunteered during the Armed Services YMCA monthly food distribution here on Oct. 26.

599th Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Jose Perez, arranged for personnel to help out.

“I heard from Command Sgt. Maj. [Randy] Brown last week that the ASYMCA was looking for volunteers on Monday,” he said. “So I sent out an email to all of our service members to see if anyone had the time to help out.”

Operations NCO, Sgt. Nashell Mendez; individual augmentee manager, Master Sgt. Eugene Shiner; and his wife, Leah Stewart, were able to help with both preparation and the event, which lasted 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Mendez said preparation included assembling the venue.

“We got there early to help prepare,” she said. “We set up tables and tents, then put bread and dry goods in one section, and other food in other sections.”

“For the set up, we broke down pallets of food, separated them into categories, then we bagged, boxed and issued them out to people,” Shiner added. “We put together food kits with different ingredients.”

ASYMCA branch director, Julianne Baker, said volunteers are appreciated. They can accept up to 25 volunteers for each monthly event.

The organization partners with the Hawaii Foodbank for the food drop.

“All of our food for the monthly food drop comes from the Hawaii Foodbank,” Baker said. “The amount we get for each month depends on the amount of customers we had the month before.”

Baker said the amount of people who need food is much greater now because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She said 95 households with 184 children came to get food from the food drop on Oct 26.

599th participants were first-time volunteers for the event. They all said they plan to return and volunteer again if they have the opportunity.

“This was very rewarding,” said Shiner, “Leah and I will absolutely return to help out again if we get the chance. It was hard work, but it was enjoyable.”

“It was so good help people. I definitely plan to return if they need volunteers,” Mendez said.

“It’s a wonderful program that we have every month,” Baker said. “Families are welcome to come. Check out our social media for changes in hours or events during the holidays at https://www.asymca.org/honolulu-hi.”

Baker said the only volunteer opportunity at the Wheeler ASYMCA is during the food drops on the fourth Monday of every month.

“We only accept volunteers during the food drop,” she said. “Our staff takes care of other programs.”

The ASYMCA also has a food pantry to assist those who need more help than the monthly food drop.

“Each family is welcome to take two bags of food a week from the food pantry,” Baker said. “Service members, family members and retirees are all eligible.”

“We really appreciate donations to the food pantry,” she added. “Part of our food for the food pantry comes from the Hawaii Foodbank, and part of it comes from other community donations. For the food pantry we need non-perishable food: dry goods, baby food and canned goods.”

For more information or to volunteer, see https://www.asymca.org/how-to-help-honolulu.