By Erin Murray, Army Flier Staff WriterOctober 27, 2011
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 27, 2011) -- The holiday season is not always a joyous time for those who are struggling financially, but the Fort Rucker Food Locker and the post Holiday Food Program seek to provide meals to those in need.
The program is receiving nominations from units and organizations for Thanksgiving food recipients through Tuesday. Units and organizations can nominate Soldiers, Family members and Department of Defense civilians, and the nominations will be reviewed by garrison command, and then directed to the Holiday Food Program and Food Locker.
"The program is for the Fort Rucker workforce. We have Families on Fort Rucker who are definitely in financial need. We want them to be able to have a good holiday meal," said Mimi Brooks, project officer for the program.
Those selected to receive assistance will receive a food basket from the Fort Rucker Food Locker and a gift certificate to the commissary or Daleville Food Giant, according to whether they are civilian or active duty, according to Brooks. Families selected for Thanksgiving baskets will also receive assistance at Christmas. Nominations received after Tuesday but before Nov. 30 will only be eligible for food donations at Christmas time.
Much of the food given by the Holiday Food Program comes directly from the Fort Rucker Food Locker, which is maintained by 1st Aviation Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company. In addition to providing food during the holidays, the Food Locker is available to Soldiers and civilians in need all year long.
"If they ask for help, we'll never turn them away," said Sgt. 1st Class Argelio Rodriguez, 1st Aviation Brigade HHC, while stocking shelves at the Food Locker.
For both the Holiday Food Program and Food Locker, donations of food, money and time are very important, according to Brooks.
"This program is based 100 percent on donations. The more donations, the more help we can provide," she said.
The Food Locker is also seeking volunteers to help manage the donations, said Sgt. Laura Hodiwala, 1st Aviation Brigade HHC, who oversees Food Locker operations.
"We highly encourage units to volunteer and help with upkeep. We'll welcome anyone. It's very fulfilling to help out a lot of people, not just during the holiday season," she said.
Many community organizations including the Wiregrass Sergeant Major Association, local Boy Scouts of America troops and Fort Rucker Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, have recently helped fill the shelves at the food locker with monetary and food support.
"Year round, we get a lot of support from the community. Most of the donations we receive are canned goods and nonperishable items. We have received so much, but I think that the biggest thing we need is (to be able to) purchase the turkeys," said Hodiwala.
Any contribution helps, according to Brooks, especially in light of the increase in food prices and economic climate.
"Economic times are tough. This is an opportunity to help out our own," she said.
For information on the Holiday Food Program and to donate money, call 255-2341. For more information on the Food Locker, or to volunteer or donate food, call 255-2901.