Thirty Sailors from Naval Base Ventura County, including Chief Staff Officer David Sasek and Command Master Chief Thomas Cyr, were among the 150 volunteers who showed up at the Ventura County Rescue Mission in Oxnard Wednesday, Nov. 21, to serve 800 meals to county families who wouldn’t otherwise have a Thanksgiving feast.
“We are so appreciative that the military is willing to give up a day and come help the community,” said John Saltee, director of the rescue mission. “We are so pleased with the turnout.”
Sasek and Cyr were among several local dignitaries at one buffet table serving food onto plates that were then taken to the families seated at picnic tables all over the rescue mission property.
Another buffet table was staffed by Sailors in their khaki uniforms, while more Sailors shuttled steaming plates of food to the hungry families.
While serving didn’t begin until noon, several volunteers came as early as 10:30 a.m. to help with behind-the-scenes work, from wrapping plastic tableware in napkins and tying them with orange yarn to setting out drinking cups filled with ice.
A dozen other volunteers from the base visited the rescue mission the day before to help set up for Wednesday’s feast.
“It’s important to help out,” said Construction Electrician 3rd Class Bryan Sheridan of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3. “We all need to give something back.”
Added Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Ivy Jane Ibarra, also of NMCB 3, “We have a lot of things to be thankful for. We need to give, too.”
Five volunteers came from Naval Branch Health Clinic, including Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Starleen Whitaker.
“I wanted to help support the needy,” she said. “I like reaching out to the community.”
Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Han, base chaplain, said the Religious Ministries Team organizes several volunteer opportunities at the rescue mission every year.
“This is important because it’s Thanksgiving,” he said. “But it’s important to volunteer the other 364 days of the year as well.”