NORAD, USNORTHCOM brings food drive home

By MC1(SW/AW) Joaquin Juatai | November 22, 2006

Servicemembers from North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command teamed up with Peterson Air Force Base and local Colorado Springs schools to collect food donations for the Care and Share Harvest of Love Food Drive, just in time for the holidays.

According to Master Sgt. Jose Hernandez, who coordinated volunteer efforts for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, this is the first time the commands have been this heavily involved.

“According to (Care and Share Food Bank), there are about 25,000 people in Colorado Springs and El Paso County who benefit from this food drive,” he said.

Volunteers assisted by picking up donations from local schools participating in the drive, sorting those donations and repacking them into boxes to be given to families in need.

More than 400 military volunteers helped collect food from donation points throughout the city, said Master Sgt. Mark Bronson, of the 21st Medical Support Squadron, who oversaw the volunteer efforts of service members from Peterson Air Force Base, NORAD, U.S. Northern Command and the Cheyenne Mountain Directorate.

“It was awesome,” said Bronson. “We brought in about 125,000 pounds and processed at least 100,000 of that.”

Bronson said that within minutes of the arrival of each shift at the food bank, service members had formed an assembly line to process the food and were hard at work.

“There is no way that Care and Share would have the capacity to pick up donations from all the schools without help from the military,” said Heather Martin, communications and marketing director of the Care and Share Food Bank.

Martin said that service members actually processed more than 150,000 lbs. of food donations between Nov. 13 and Nov. 20.

“One of the really great things about (service members) involvement is not only are they helping the families who are on the receiving list, but they are helping people who want to join in the fight against hunger who may not have the means to be able to volunteer their time or a large amount of donations,” said Martin.

According to Martin, Care and Share Food Bank distributed more than 7.3 million lbs. of food in 2005.

“No way would we have been able to do that without (military) volunteers,” Martin said. “Not only do they volunteer to serve their country, but here they are volunteering to serve their community, also. (Military volunteers) really are our ‘force multipliers’ in the fight against hunger.”