CSG 2 Begins Collecting Food Donations for their Annual Caring and Sharing Gift Boxes
GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Group (CSG) 2 and Naval Submarine Base New London commands are in their second week of collecting voluntary food and monetary donations for the annual Caring and Sharing program that assists Sailors and their families in need of assistance this holiday season, Nov. 9.
The Caring and Sharing program was launched in the early 1990s. Sailors assigned to CSG 2 and commands attached to Naval Submarine Base New London are providing voluntary support for this annual drive which will run through Dec. 14.
Every day, except for Monday, volunteers will stand a voluntary watch from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Navy Exchange and Commissary to collect donations for this cause. The food collected will be placed into gift boxes and presented to Sailors and their families who have requested assistance.
"Last year, we helped more than 400 military families stationed in New London during the holiday season," said Legalman 2nd Class Ru Li, Caring and Sharing coordinator assigned to Commander, Submarine Group 2, who has volunteered with the program since 2008.
According to Li, the 400 military families assisted last year and in previous years benefitted from the involvement of the Groton U.S. Submarine Veterans (SUBVETS), who have consistently supported the annual Caring and Sharing program.
"The U.S. SUBVETS have been active supporters of the Caring and Sharing program donating at least $5,000 to the program with funds left over from their Thanksgiving program. In the last three years the SUBVETS have donated $15,000 to the local program and $15,000 to the National Program," said John Carcioppolo, Groton SUBVETS base commander, who was the chief of the boat aboard USS Dallas (SSN 700) when the program was first launched.
Li added that with the support from the U.S. SUBVETS, local military community, and others, the Caring and Sharing Program is not just a possibility, but a promise to those seeking assistance.
"The food boxes contain all of the fixings for a Thanksgiving meal complete with a turkey; and the Christmas boxes contain a ham with an assortment of fixings," said Li.
Sonar Technician Submarines 2nd Class (SS) Antwan Haywood also assists with the program and explains his desire to offer his support.
"It's nice to be able to help shipmates celebrate with their own families by alleviating some financial stress that the season can bring," said Haywood, who is presently assigned to CSG 2.
Commander, Submarine Group 2's Command Master Chief (SS) Wesley Koshoffer discusses the importance of this annual drive and assisting those in need, especially during the holidays.
"This is the ultimate self help program, shipmates helping shipmates, Navy Families lending a helping hand. For some Navy Families a full blown Holiday Feast just doesn't make the cut on the 'needs vs. wants' list," said Koshoffer. "This program offers a helping hand to those who would like to have a very nice Holiday meal and draws on our spirit of giving. I am proud of both those who support and donate to the program as well as those who request the help so they can provide a memorable experience and meal for their family."
Li added that each food box is direct proportion with the family. A family of four will receive one gift box, whereas a family of six will receive two gift boxes.
Other recipients of the gift boxes include surviving spouses of service members who live in the area and have expressed a need through the SUBASE New London's Fleet and Family Support Center.
Other beneficiaries of the food boxes are relief organizations in the area.
"Additional donations not included in the gift boxes are provided to the Navy Marine Corps Relief food locker and local food bank in New London County," said Li. "I think this program is a morale booster for servicemembers, their families stationed in this area and the community at large."
The commands, in addition to CSG 2, participating in this year's Caring and Sharing program include Naval Submarine School, Navy Information Operations Detachment Groton, New London Submarine Base Ambulatory Care Center, Naval Submarine Support Facility, and Navy Exchange and the Commissary New London.
This year, the local Groton Girl Scout Chapter 63220 will also assist in preparing the gift boxes.