21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., — Airman 1st Class Jessica Fryer, 21st Communications Squadron, said she likes to help people in need. They might not be her family, she said, but they are someone’s family.
“I’m not that far removed from them,” she said. “It isn’t but by the grace of God that it’s not me.”
Airman Fryer was among 40 Airmen and civilians from the 21st Space Wing who volunteered Nov. 20, at the Care and Share Food Bank. A November city-wide food drive called Harvest of Love, had tons of food donations coming into the food bank. This was the 16th consecutive year the wing’s Airmen helped unload and sort food during the Harvest of Love, the food bank’s largest food drive of the year.
“Peterson Air Force Base is an integral part of the community and we believe in giving back especially as we enter the holiday season,” said Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st SW commander. “Air Force Core Values include ‘Service Before Self,’ and we extend that into our community.”
Care and Share Food Bank is part of a national network called Feed America. The regional warehouse, 2605 Preamble Point, serves 31 counties in Southern Colorado. Care and Share would not be able to serve 14.6 million pounds of food to 100,000 people without volunteers, said Lisa Amend, Care and Share marketing and communications manager.
Active-duty and retired military folks are great supporters of the food bank and make up a core amount of the 4,000 volunteers throughout the year, she said.
Airman Jon Rivera, 21st Medical Group, said he wanted to help out during the holidays. He unloaded and sorted food as it came in from schools and businesses all over the city.
“I heard they could use the extra man power,” he said. “I mean look at the place,” he said gesturing to the new 52,000 square-foot food bank, which opened this year.
Care and Share food bank opened 35 years ago. It has increased the amount of food it distributes by more than 75 percent in the past two years.
Food bank lead volunteer Ernie Lykins, retired Air Force fire chief from the 21st SW, has been a key fixture at food bank for nine years.
“I love doing for others,” he said. “We’ve got too many hungry people.”
This year, demand for food goods has increased 20 percent from last fiscal year, Ms. Amend said.
“A lot of working families are among those in need” she said. “Maybe the family has lost one income or had to take a lower wage. Working families in need; that is something that would surprise a lot of people.”
Airman Fryer said she plans to volunteer at the food bank beyond the holiday season. Care and Share relies on volunteers year around, said Ms. Amend.
“Nobody should be hungry for Christmas,” Ms. Amend said. “But, hunger does not end after Christmas.”
For more information about the Care and Share Food Bank and details on how to volunteer, visit www.careandshare.org.