News: Headquarters Battalion hikes to quell holiday hunger
Story by Cpl. Reece Lodder
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Hawaii - Lacing up their boots and donning packs weighed down by nonperishable foods, approximately 400 Marines and sailors with Headquarters Battalion recently demonstrated Thanksgiving is more than a time to reflect on life’s blessings.
They opened their cabinets to give to those in need, carrying the 3,580 pounds of food during a 4.2-mile hike around Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Nov. 19, 2010, then donating it to the Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Harvest.
“Carrying food and gear for an event like this helps set the command climate,” said Navy Lt. Ben Mathis, a chaplain with Headquarters Bn. “Donating reminds our Marines and sailors that it’s good to give of yourself for someone else, especially during the holiday season.”
Mathis said holidays bring families and friends together to celebrate, but certain circumstances may prevent this from happening. Donating food to families separated by deployment encourages them to come together, and helps those struggling with finances by providing a good holiday meal.
Marines and sailors were asked to carry approximately 25 pounds of nonperishable food in their packs to donate. Treading grass, asphalt, sticky mud and a lone hill, the battalion made its way along the course before arriving to their donation point at the base chapel.
Though the rows of boxes had been empty, within minutes, they teemed with canned goods and bags of other nonperishable food items.
“We wanted to show that Marines are all about giving, and that we’re willing to sacrifice some of our hard-earned money to be able to give to the needy,” said Sgt. Maj. Marvin Dixon, battalion sergeant major, Headquarters Bn., of Hopkinsville, Ky.
The collected food will mostly be distributed as food baskets to the families of deployed Marines and sailors, single Marines and less fortunate service members identified by various commands on base, Mathis said. The Armed Services YMCA will distribute the remainder of the food to needy families within the local community.
“This is the largest donation of food that has come in,” Mathis said. “We couldn't have reached as many people as we have without the generosity we’ve had at MCB Hawaii.”
Mathis said the donations ensured the success of the operation and illustrated one of the Marine Corps’ goals — making model citizens — in action.
“Our leadership models it for us and the rest of us follow this illustration of how to be a Marine,” Mathis said. “We’re learning how to give back and an event like this is part of it.”
“Working toward a common goal while building unit cohesion is a great thing,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Hubbard, substance abuse control officer and safety manager, Headquarters Bn.
Since the battalion’s sections are spread out all over base, the opportunity to come together, put on packs and hike helps develop camaraderie between Marines and sailors, added Hubbard, of Grass Valley, Ore.
Between donations from the Headquarters Bn. hike, Marine Corps Community Service employees and patrons, and those brought to the commissary and base chapel, Operation Harvest garnered approximately 4,576.8 pounds of donated food this year.