BALTIMORE (NNS) -- More than 50 Sailors and midshipmen from USS San Antonio (LPD 17), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43) and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) volunteered at "Meals on Wheels" of Central Maryland, June 14, during Navy Week Baltimore.
The Sailors were on hand to paint the Meals on Wheels building, as well as prepare meals for the program's meal recipients.
"It is extremely important for us to have the Sailors come and helps us like they are," said Ellen Falk, director of volunteer services for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. "We prepare almost 5,000 meals a day for nearly 1,500 home-bound clients. Having the Navy here to help out makes the work go so much faster, and frees up our staff and volunteers for other things."
Falk continued, "Our mission is to enable people to live independently at home through provision of nutritious meals, personal contact and related services. It really helps when people like these Sailors come to help us accomplish that mission."
The Sailors and midshipmen were involved in nearly every step of meal preparation, from loading cold trays and boxing fruit, to preparing packages of condiments. The effort displayed by the crew members was not only helpful for the Meals on Wheels operations, but also in the spreading of goodwill.
"This is truly fantastic," said Debbie Brown, events and communications manager for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. "It's really great to have the Navy here building these community partnerships. Anytime we can build relationships like this is a win-win."
The Sailors and midshipmen themselves enjoyed the event, joking and laughing throughout the community relation project (COMREL). But at its core, the mission was about helping the community.
"We're out here to help out Meals on Wheels because the Navy, as a whole, is big on giving back to others," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Michael Tucker, a San Antonio crew member from Myrtle Beach, S.C. "A lot of Sailors do COMRELs like this because they understand the importance of their position in helping the less fortunate."
While the Sailors were able to help Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland and the community it serves, probably most important was the effect the event had on the Sailors, particularly those who had never participated in a COMREL before.
"This is my first COMREL, but after this, I'm going to start volunteering for them all the time," said Interior Communications Electrician 3rd Class Gabriel Holguin, a San Antonio crewmember from Victorville, Calif. "My favorite part has been the people. Everyone is working to help, and they all have a great attitude."
Navy Week Baltimore is one of the signature events around the country commemorating the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Star-Spangled Banner.
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For more news from Navy Operational Support Center Baltimore, visit www.navy.mil/local/noscb/.