By Spc. Mahlet Tesfaye, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs OfficeJuly 1, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- The smiles of the homeless shelter staff members show the joy and excitement as military personnel unload boxes of food into the shelterAca,!a,,cs kitchen.
As part of the of 25th Infantry DivisionAca,!a,,cs Aca,!A"Freedom RideAca,!A?, Soldiers and officers donated non-perishable foods to Kahikolu Aca,!EoeOhana Hale Aca,!EoeO WaiAca,!a,,canae homeless shelter, Waianae, Hawaii, June 30.
Aca,!A"The inspiration really is a way to give back during the [4th of July] holiday. People were more than willing to give what they could,Aca,!A? said Sgt. 1st Class Robert J. Martin, a ride organizer.
People at the homeless shelter were Aca,!A"super happyAca,!A? that Soldiers came by and dropped off food they can use it to feed a lot of people who are not as fortunate as others, said 1st Sgt. Steven Sonnen, 25th Inf. Div. Band.
The Aca,!A"Freedom RideAca,!A? is a motorcycle mentorship program that brings together experienced and new riders from different units in the division and lets them get the experience of a group ride, plus introduce them to other riders.
Aca,!A"The main purpose of todayAca,!a,,cs ride was to get as many riders as we could throughout the military community and the civilians that would like to participate, and to bring canned goods that we can donate to the homeless shelter around the Waianae side, a way to give back to the community,Aca,!A? said Sonnen.
The shelter is a two-year transitional homeless shelter that supports up to 200 homeless residents, mostly families.
Aca,!A"In the two years, we hope to increase their income however that may be by helping them with their short-term and long-term goals, so that at the end of two years they will be able to live on their own and support their families,Aca,!A? said Jade Paredes, executive assistant of the homeless shelter.
The shelter helps the residents get job training, formal education and a driver license while helping them through substance abuse problems, child protective services and other challenges holding them back from supporting themselves.
Aca,!A"TodayAca,!a,,cs donation from 25th Inf. Div. was a godsend because we were running low on our food supply, and we really appreciate what we received today,Aca,!A? said Paredes.
The donation to the homeless shelter organized by the Aca,!A"Freedom RideAca,!A? is the first one that could set the road to many charity drives in the future.
Aca,!A"Anytime we can give back it makes us feel better. I joined the Army to serve others. So if I contribute just a little bit to make one personAca,!a,,cs day better by giving some canned food, it makes me happy,Aca,!A? said Martin.