Posted 3:52 PM 11/21/2011 : Serving those who serve
It's hard to picture America's fighting men and women struggling so much financially as to not be able to afford a proper Thanksgiving dinner, but it happens. Meeting that need is a priority for Carey Adams, director of Gods Pantry Ministries in Fountain. She and about two dozen volunteers set aside 65 of their 200 plus holiday meal boxes for specifically for local wounded warriors and Fort Carson soldiers in need.
"It's just heartening when you think our soldiers have to come back and ask for food," Adams said.
Adams coordinated her efforts with Fort Carson through Sgt. Kenneth Broadnax. He explains that lower ranking soldiers earn the least in the Army, and depending on their personal circumstances, may have a great need.
"Some may have two or three children and they worry about Christmas gifts," Broadnax explains. "So, it does come hard sometimes to feed a big household."
Enlisted soldiers in the lower ranks (E1-E4) of the Army and all military branches earn between $17,611 and $27,910 a year depending on their length of service. Some, as Broadnax suggests, are the sole income providers for their household.
"The younger soldiers, it's a struggle sometimes," Broadnax said. "That's why they work really hard to get promoted so they can get more pay."
The need is even greater among wounded warriors whose long term medical and rehabilitative care can put a strain on family finances. Adams says her ministry gives food to anyone who asks for help, regardless of their income.
"They shouldn't have to worry about where their Thanksgiving dinner is coming from," she said.
Although Adams has donated the meal boxes for the past 14 years, a growing number of people wanted to help this year. Several Army wives baked homemade pies, while others volunteered to sort through donations and build boxes.
"Really, everybody just got on board and so we had to make it bigger," Adams said.
In fact, Monday's giveaway was a community event complete with face painting and balloon animals for the kids. There was also a station for children to make a handmade greeting card to send to soldiers serving overseas.
Sgt. Broadnax says those personal messages are some of the most heart warming items the soldiers receive when stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan. "They have no idea how far they reach soldiers hearts, they really don't," Broadnax said.
Adams will coordinate another holiday meal box drive next month just before Christmas. Volunteers and donations can be arranged by calling God's Pantry Ministries at (719) 382-0643. The clothing and food assistance charity is located at 102 North Main Street in Fountain.