MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
Twenty-three Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, took helped distribute food at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in Greenville, N.C., December 17.
Navy Lt. Reginald E. Jones, a native of DeSoto, Texas, and the battalion chaplain, started the community relations program within the unit. Since returning from a deployment to Okinawa a few months ago the unit has already volunteered three times.
“We are looking at community relations as force preservation,” said Jones. “I feel like a lot of times with what goes on in the news it causes people to have a bad reputation with Marines and sailors in Jacksonville. So now when they see us step outside these gates and giving back to the community they will have a different perspective of what the military is. That we are respectable people who care for the well-being of others.”
In this particular event at the food bank the Marines and sailors took salvaged food sorted and packed it. Most employees were surprised to see how fast the Marines and sailors worked, only a few knew what to expect.
“I was actually told before the Marines and sailors came to tell them what needs to be done and then get out of the way,” said Joshua W. Adams, the food safety officer for the food bank, from Winterville, N.C. “We moved an extremely large amount of salvage and got it all processed today.”
Marines and sailors definitely stood up to their reputation of being competitive while still working as a team.
“How quickly everyone worked together. It was turned into a competition of who can break the boxes down and get the boxes sorted the fastest,” Jones said. “We were packing so fast that they wanted us to go to lunch so they can catch up. We probably did a week’s worth of work in only a few hours.”
Working at such a fast pace is not something the employees are used to.
“A few times I heard the workers say we are wearing them out and even their lead supervisor said ‘man I am tired, but I love it when they come here, I really love it when they come here’,” Jones said.
Maintaining a steady relationship between the service members and the community boosts morale in both the communities and units.
“It allows people to see that we don’t only serve in Iraq, Afghanistan and overseas, but that we also serve within our country,” said Jones.
Jones goal for the battalion is to do at least one volunteer project a month, but hopefully two to three.
“After we finish doing these events, often times the Marines and sailors come up to me and tell me the next time we go they would like to go again. We have no problems filling in the empty slots.” added Jones.