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Schriever Airmen give back in a big way

Schriever Airmen give back in a big way

Airmen from the 50th Operations Support Squadron gather in front of Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jan. 29, 2018. The volunteers donated a total of 122 man hours sorting more than 11,000 pounds of food for needy families throughout the state. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Yakov Kim)

Schriever Airmen give back in a big way

Airmen from the 50th Operations Support Squadron sort through more than 11,000 pounds of food at Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Jan. 29, 2018. Thirty-five volunteers were able to organize 9,000 meals for families throughout the state. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Yakov Kim)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Thirty-five Airmen from the 50th Operations Support Squadron sorted 11,500 pounds of food destined for needy families at Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado Jan. 29.

While Schriever Airmen giving back to the local community is common, groups of this size are uniquely appreciated by the food bank.

“It’s a huge impact,” said Joanna Wise, marketing and communications director, CSFBSC. “To give perspective, they organized and sorted 9,000 meals that will be distributed throughout Southern Colorado.”

According to the nonprofit organization’s website, Care and Share’s mission is to ensure that one in eight Southern Coloradans at risk of hunger have access to enough healthy and nutritious food to thrive. They are one of hundreds of charitable organizations underneath the umbrella of the Combined Federal Campaign.

The event’s organizer, Staff Sgt. Yakov Kim, staff instructor, 50th OSS, said the idea came to him after a previous smaller scale experience at the food bank.

“I had so much fun the last time I helped here, I thought we could really make a big difference if we could get some bigger numbers,” he said.

The idea spread like wildfire throughout the unit and Kim soon found himself with more than 30 volunteers.

“When I explained to people what this is, they understood it is winter time and not knowing where your next meal is coming from would be awful,” he said. “The event wasn’t mandatory. Everyone was there out of the goodness of their hearts. This was an opportunity to fix an immediate need.”

The “need” manifested itself in the form of two seven-foot tall containers filled with 3,000 pounds of potatoes each. Staff Sgt. Brandon Gendron, course manager, 50th OSS, was one of the volunteers who helped sort them.

“There were all those potatoes and then boxes and boxes of oranges,” Gendron said. “And it only took us three hours. A lot of places like Care and Share aren’t necessarily staffed to sort all the donations into individual packages. So, volunteers are critical.”

In addition to putting food on the table for hungry families, Kim pointed out a secondary goal.

“Schriever is a little out of the way,” Kim said. “To form stronger bonds with our community, we have to make an effort to get out there and say, ‘hey, we’re here, we appreciate you and we want to give back.”’

Wise agreed.

“We have such a great partnership,” she said. “Our Air Force members already do so much for our country so for them to take the extra step and give back locally … there’s nothing more inspiring. It really does make a difference. It’s so much more than food.”

Additionally, the volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to form bonds and strengthen relationships among themselves.

“It was super competitive,” Kim said. “We had music going. We were trash-talking each other as to which group was going to get through their potato bin first.”

Gendron concurred.

“It was so much fun to go as a group, take our uniforms off and just be family representing Schriever,” he said. “It was a strong bonding experience. We were laughing, making jokes and having a good time.”

The 50th OSS puts concerted effort into creating synergy between giving back to the community and bonding amongst themselves.

“Our squadron is primarily made up of instructors,” Kim said. “It gives us leeway to be creative in perhaps staying longer one day so we can leave earlier the next day and volunteer somewhere.”

Kim shared his advice for anyone looking to volunteer in Colorado Springs.

“Find a charity you’re passionate about, contact them well in advance and get a feel for what they need,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be a large group. Any one person can make a difference.”