SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
“You don’t think you’ll make a difference, but then you go there and you see over 150 people who need food and then you really see the difference you’re making,” said Airman 1st Class Brandon Rose, 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron fleet management apprentice.
For the last five months, Airmen from the 375th LRS have been volunteering with the charity Helping Hearts Grow in St. Louis to provide food for the homeless. The group hands out food, water and hygiene kits for those in need. All of the donations are provided by the 375th LRS Airmen from their personal funds.
“I have seen very few people as committed, dedicated and compassionate as they are,” said Rachel Porter-Hunter, Helping Hearts Grow Charity president. “They take their own time to buy supplies, cook food, buy food or whatever it takes to make sure that they’re serving a good meal to the people they’re reaching.”
Every Wednesday, the Airmen meet in downtown St. Louis and provide an array of different supplies that are crucial for homeless people surviving. A hot meal, nonperishable items, fruit, hygiene kits and water are all things that have been donated to people in need.
“The donations go really quick — it’s like an assembly line when we hand things out,” said Brian Rose, 375th LRS production control, “This past week we provided over 600 hot dogs, cooked them all on the grill then we wrapped them up and threw them in a cooler.”
There are also many items that people don’t always think of when providing to the homeless. Most donations are things like food or water, but those aren’t the only things that are needed.
“Some of the things you don’t think about and if you’re homeless you don’t have access to showers and many people assume they don’t do it, but they find a way to,” said Rose. “They don’t want to be nasty and a lot of people assume that it would be the last thing on their mind, but we get so many requests for toothbrushes, soap, sunscreen, lip balm, feminine hygiene products and deodorant.”
For most of the volunteers this is their first time interacting with homeless people, but for all of them it has been an eye-opening experience.
“A lot of people have a negative expectation when it comes to homeless people,” said Rose. “There are some that are rough around the edges, but most are really appreciative and even help by breaking down boxes, help and even assist with handing stuff out.”
“Contributing to society is a good thing,” said Staff Sgt. Stacy Robinson, 375th LRS mission generated vehicle equipment maintenance supervisor. “It comes down to if you have a heart of any kind if you’re willing to help do so, if you have the means and capability you can help too.”