Toledo, Ohio --
Volunteers from the 180th Logistics Readiness Squadron served dinner to more than 200 of Toledo's homeless on Feb. 25 at the Cherry Street Mission.
The 180th LRS increased the visibility of the Ohio Air National Guard in the Toledo area by working with the Cherry Street Mission Ministries to provide coats and meals for the homeless.
Established in 1947, the Cherry Street Mission Ministries provides services to help the less fortunate in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. This organization also supports two local homeless shelters: the Cherry Street Mission, a men's shelter, and the Sparrow's Nest, a females' shelter.
In November, the 180th LRS kicked off their volunteer efforts at Cherry Street Mission with a coat drive that replaced their annual holiday gift exchange. "At the end of the year we always do a gift exchange and people don't know what to get," said Senior
Master Sgt. Joy Chittum, 180th Fight Wing distribution flight supervisor.
Also, "everyone in LRS was receptive to the idea of the coat drive because it was for a good cause," said Senior Master Sgt. Annie Menchaca-Bratton, a Toledo native, and member of 180th HazMat Pharmacy. "Not to mention, it was the Christmas season."
"I had expected people to donate only a few coats, but every time I turned around the bin was full," said Chittum. "It was pretty amazing delivering the coats because the Cherry Street staff was so overwhelmed and amazed by the number of coats we gave. Seeing that made us feel good about what we were doing."
"LRS donated approximately 75 coats to Cherry Street Mission," said Lt. Col. Frank Dailey, 180th FW LRS commander.
Having walked away with good feelings, the members of the 180th LRS decided to donate their time again at Cherry Street Mission in February, during a week of annual training.
"We went to Cherry Street Monday, Tuesday and Thursday," said Chittum. "We fed the homeless two of the nights, and we did a non-perishable food drive on the last day."
When told they could be feeding up to 300 people, Menchaca-Bratton said, she felt overwhelmed initially. However, things went smoothly once they got to Cherry Street because of the good planning and coordination by leadership at LRS.
Furthermore, Menchaca-Bratton said, it was remarkable to witness the volunteers bringing food out to the women at the Sparrow's Nest, almost restaurant style. This moment was all about putting service before self, one of the Air Force core values. Those women were so appreciative of how our service made them feel special.
"When Rosilyn Goodwin, director of Stewardship Services at Cherry Street, first came out to give the 180th FW was in the area," said Chittum. "I think it is important to get out in the community to let them know we are here."
"The 180 FW has a proud history of supporting our local community through numerous events, volunteerism and donations," said Col. Steve Nordhaus, 180th FW commander. "We are committed to protecting and serving our nation at home and abroad."
LRS's community service work has inspired other squadrons at the 180th FW to get involved at Cherry Street Mission.
"The 180th must have had a huge impact on Cherry Street and Sparrow's Nest because they want us to come back," said Menchaca- Bratton. "Volunteering at Cherry Street Mission was something I had always wanted to do, and now it is something that I will continue to do."
For more information about Cherry Street Mission visit http:// www.cherrystreetmission.org.