Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. -- Saturday morning members of the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society gathered at the Village Center anticipating a 1,200-pound donation of goods to the families of the Combat Center from an organization called Military Support Headquarters.
David Dunn, one of the founders of MSHQ, contacted Rebecca Snoke, a relief society assistant, in May to offer his services of collecting goods for service member families.
This was the first time Snoke had heard of a big organization contacting the NMCRS to donate goods. Usually, the NMCRS has to request the assistance of such services. Snoke was excited and thankful for such an offering, she said.
Once Dunn received the “O.K.” from Snoke, MSHQ started hosting events and drives to contribute to the collection of donation.
Dunn arrived at 9:15 a.m. with a pick-up truck full of donated items. He gathered the group that volunteered to unload the truck to present to them a banner with a Marine Corps logo and signatures of volunteers and donors.
“My heart is very warm right now,” said Snoke. “Just the banner alone was very touching.”
Then the volunteers unloaded the truck. There were plenty of imperishable foods, baby clothing items, toiletries, books, toys and disposable cameras.
Dunn, an Air Force retiree, helped found the MSHQ organization in 2003 with two other military retirees. The founders were watching a news-special about care packages troops received while serving in Iraq. How appreciative the troops were sparked an idea. The founders wanted to be a part of giving to the troops and their families of their country, Dunn said.
Then, a surprising fact geared the organization more toward the families. More than 100,000 service members’ families are part of the Women, Infants and Children program that provide assistance to low-income women and their children unable to afford or supplement proper nutrition for themselves, Dunn said.
There was a time that organizations like MSHQ were unheard of.
“Why should I help? No one did this for us?” an Army veteran once said to Dunn.
“That’s why you should help. We’re the parents now, we’ve got to make sure families don’t go through the same hardships we did,” replied Dunn.
Dunn tells stories of veterans that have been able to put bitter memories of war to rest because of their hand in donation drives.
The program has contributed more than 23,000 pounds of goods to troops and their families since 2003.
Snoke was tearful as she presented Dunn a Certificate of Commendation from the NMCRS, signed by the director Raymond Caldwell. Dunn graciously accepted the certificate and passed on the traditional handshake and went for a hug.
As they sorted through the goods, Snoke excitedly talked about her plans for the contents of the donation. She was eagerly mapping out how she was going to split up the items into individual family care packages.
“It feels really good to have our community acknowledged,” said Snoke. “Especially around the holidays it’s nice to have more to give. It’s a real big morale booster for us at the Relief Society.”
Information on MSHQ can be found at http://www.militarysupporthq.com.