Marines from USS Arlington donate time to feed hungry

Lance Cpl. Calvin Shamoon DVIDS

BOSTON – A group of more than 20 Marines with U.S. Marine Forces Command and II Marine Expeditionary Force aboard the USS Arlington (LPD-24) amphibious transport dock ship could have spent their time exploring the city of Boston but instead they chose to volunteer their time at the Greater Boston Food Bank, March 17.

Corporal Joshua Aaron Saffady at the Greater Boston Food Bank Photo by Lance Cpl. Calvin Shamoon

Corporal Joshua Aaron Saffady at the Greater Boston Food Bank Photo by Lance Cpl. Calvin Shamoon

Although the Marines were primarily in Boston to march in the nation’s third largest St. Patrick’s Day parade, what they were doing behind the scenes had the greater impact. They wanted to give back to those people that welcomed them to their city with open arms so they rolled up their sleeves and got to work.

They have been around since the 1970s when Kip Tiernan started distributing food out of a station wagon. Over the last few decades, however, it went from just a citizen helping those in need, to an organization that is large enough to feed a sold-out Fenway Park 11,000 times according to the organization’s website.

They distribute more than 51 million pounds of healthy food to pantries and shelters each year. Their services stretch across 190 cities and nine counties in eastern Massachusetts.

“It feels good to give back to the community. We were here for the parade, but we had extra time,” said Cpl. Nathan Malitor, a rifleman with Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team Company A, Marine Corps Security Forces in Norfolk, Virginia, and a native of Parma, Ohio. “Since we didn’t have anything major going on, we wanted to help other people; it’s a good feeling.”

Sailors and Bostonians helped Marines with the sorting and packaging process.

“We are so grateful to have Marines here helping us at the Greater Boston Food Bank,” said Courtney Johanson, the director of marketing communications at GBFB. “Volunteers are important, and it saves us about $1 million each year. The Marines being here today not only helped to feed people that don’t know where their next meal is coming from, but they’re helping us operate very efficiently as an organization.”

More than 25,000 people volunteer to sort through and distribute food products at the GBFB annually. Over the course of two days, the Marines alongside other volunteers, helped accumulate a massive number of food to be distributed. They put in a total of 275 man hours, sorted over 28,000 pounds of food, enough to feed nine families of four for over a year.

Lt. Brady Rentz, the Navy Chaplain aboard the USS Arlington (LPD-24) amphibious transport dock ship, said he was impressed by the enthusiasm and effort put forth for this community relations opportunity.

“I just knew that if Marines were coming with us we’d get a lot done,” said the Maryville, Tennessee, native. “I felt confident that if I had them there on any community relations event I was running that things were going to get accomplished.”

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