Army JROTC Cadets lend helping hand for massive community holiday boxes distribution
Jackson, Mich. – Hundreds of families across the Jackson community will have what they need to celebrate the holidays thanks to the helping hands of some high school students.
Nearly fifty cadets from the Jackson Area Career Center’s Army JROTC program have been volunteering their time at the Salvation Army this month to prepare for the massive distribution of toys and food boxes. The effort began weeks ago, when students at Jackson High School collected 90,000 food items from community members as part of their Thanksgiving Giving Food Drive.
All that food was loaded into semis and taken to the Salvation Army, where cadets spent days unloading and sorting the items and putting 1,000 boxes together so families in need have the basics for a holiday meal. One of the organizers at the Salvation Army says the job wouldn’t have gotten done if it wasn’t for the cadets. “We don’t have many volunteers to do all the heavy lifting they’ve been doing,” said Heather Rodgers, Office Manager of the Salvation Army. “We need people to do the hard work, and they show up year after year – it means a lot.”
Once all the boxes were prepared and toys were spread out on tables, the next task was to pass them out to the community. Hundreds of people lined up around the Salvation Army on three different days, each taking home a food box that included things like a turkey or a chicken, stuffing mix, applesauce, macaroni and cheese – even Girl Scout cookies. They also got to pick out coats, hats and gloves – and toys if they had kids at home. The cadets then carried the boxes and toys out to the cars, hoping to help bring some holiday cheer in a time of need. “I look forward to seeing their happy faces,” says Cadet Hailey Miller of Hanover-Horton High School. Another cadet, Madyline Howard of Columbia Central, wished more could be done, saying “I feel bad they can only pick a few things, what if they need more?”
4th year Cadet Nolan Barnes knows first-hand how much this helps families. “We once had to rely on the Salvation Army during a time of need in my family,” said the senior from Jackson High School. “It makes you feel good to know you’re helping making a difference in the lives of others”. Cadet Gage Stemen of Jackson High echoed that statement, saying “It’s nice to go above and beyond – it’s the least we can do. It helps bring things into perspective, makes you appreciate what you have.”
For Army JROTC instructor Sgt. Michael Monroe, he hopes community service projects like this are just the start of the good things these cadets can do. “People in our own community do need help – and I just hope this inspires our cadets to volunteer elsewhere in the community.”
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