SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras, –
More than 120 members of Joint Task Force-Bravo, with the support of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Joint Security Forces and the Honduran military, completed a volunteer seven mile round trip hike to deliver 2,500 pounds of food and supplies to families in need in the mountain village of El Tamarindo outside Comayagua, Honduras, May 17, 2014.
The effort was part of the 54th Joint Task Force-Bravo Chapel Hike, a venerable tradition during which Task Force members donate money to purchase food and supplies and then carry those supplies on a hike through the mountains to deliver them to local, underserviced communities.
"Our goal was to provide support for the village of El Tamarindo by supplying groceries to the less fortunate families," said U.S. Army Sgt Lonnie Lampkin, Joint Task Force-Bravo chaplain assistant. "Each family received three pounds of rice and sugar, two packs of spaghetti pasta, two packs of tomato paste, 1 pack of refried beans and one pack of coffee."
Many of the families brought gifts of flowers, local treats or drinks to give as a "thank you" for the generosity they were shown.
"I was very humbled," said U. S. Air National Guard Capt. Sherri Pierce, Army Forces Battalion logistics director. "We were there to help them so I didn't expect anything in return. When he handed me those flowers, I almost cried."
After delivering the food and supplies, Task Force members spent time interacting with the villagers and playing with the children, including providing them with two piñatas full of candy to break open and miniature soccer balls to play with. Many of the kids also filled their hands, pockets and shirts with the candy and snacks they were given by the volunteers.
"I was really impressed with everyone's eagerness on wanting to participate in the chapel hike and the amount of people that came was remarkable," said U. S. Air Force Senior Airman Phetchompoo Jakthong, the Joint Task Force-Bravo medical planning non-commissioned officer in charge. "It was tough hiking up the mountain but worth seeing the smiles on their faces when you're giving them the food and candy. It's amazing what you take for granted but made me realize how grateful I am for what I have."
Lampkin believes that no matter what part of the world you are in, there is always someone that has a need that needs to be filled.
"I never taking anything for granted because I could easily see myself in the same situation. The looks on people and children as their faces light up with smiles when they see us walking down to them gives me a warm feeling in my heart; the feeling that I am making a difference and impacting someone's life."
Jose Domingo Mejía, the El Tamarindo community auxiliary, stated that it is very important for his community to receive these donations from Joint Task Force-Bravo.
"There are kids in the community that need this and they get very happy with the toys and food. We're very grateful for everything. We need food on a daily basis so this helps everyone in the community."
Since the chapel hikes originated in 2004, over 8,000 service members have donated over $162,000 and volunteered their time to deliver more than 200,000 pounds of food and supplies to several remote villages.