When China Lake Chaplain Lt. Derrick Horne put out a call for volunteers on a community service project, he was not disappointed.
When China Lake Chaplain Lt. Derrick Horne put out a call for volunteers on a community service project, he was not disappointed. On Saturday, military and civilians from the China Lake community showed up in force at the Ridgecrest Corps of the Salvation Army to help assemble Thanksgiving food baskets for the less fortunate.
"I'm just overwhelmed," said Salvation Army Ridgecrest Corps Envoy Donna Griffin. "There are so many volunteers and so many of them brought along family members."
There were so many volunteers, in fact, that Griffin said she had to spread them out over three different work areas. By 10 a.m., volunteers under the direction of Horne had an assembly line humming like, well, a well-oiled military operation.
"One of the things I try to do with our community service projects is find things that the whole family can be involved in," said Horne. "I think it's great when kids can see their parents helping and for them to be able to help as well. Hopefully that's the kind of thing that will stay with them and encourage them to keep volunteering as they grow."
With more than 800 requests for food baskets, the Salvation Army definitely needed a little backup from the Navy. A little more than an hour into the effort, nearly three shipping pallets were piled high with full boxes.
Sailors, Department of Defense employees and their families — husbands and wives as well as children from teens to toddlers — were all doing their part.
In the parking lot, trucks were unloading supplies while more volunteers arrived.
One group of volunteers was bringing in the food items — everything from cranberry sauce to green beans and stuffing mix to mashed potatoes and gravy — and parceling them out around the assembly area. As soon as the food arrived, other volunteers were picking it up the newly arrived food stuffs and filling the baskets in accordance with a list of contents provided by the Salvation Army.
Once the baskets were full, they were being carried out into the hallway and placed on a waiting pallet. The pallets were then moved down the hallway to a storage area, awaiting final delivery to food basket applicants. In a little over an hour and a half, the volunteers had assembled 450 food baskets.
Griffin said there was already a waiting list for baskets with nearly double the number of requests from last year.
"At this point, we're just operating on faith that we will be able to fill all those requests," she said.
To donate to the Salvation Army, visit their community center at 151 N. Downs St., or call (760) 375-7219.
The Ridgecrest Corps provides various youth activities including scouting programs, such as Girl Guards and Sunbeams. The Corps distributes food through the USDA Commodities Food Program on the third Thursday of every month from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Application required. The "Living Bread" food pantry operates through the support of the Ridgecrest community.