LOS ANGELES (NNS) -- The San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23)'s Sailors volunteered their time at a local community center, Aug. 7-8.
The Anchorage's First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) went to the St. Francis Center in downtown Los Angeles to help low-income families and the homeless by handing out food and feeding senior citizens.
"The St. Francis volunteer opportunity was a real eye opener for a lot of us," said Hull Technician 1st Class Brandon Majors, the FCPOA president and coordinator for the event. "It makes you take a step back and realize what you have in life. The best part of it all was seeing the people here smile. You could sense the comfort level from us being there."
Twenty-two first class petty officers from Anchorage's FCPOA volunteered their time over two days and helped hand out almost 7,000 pounds of groceries. St. Francis Center hosted 108 families in to their main facility while the Sailors volunteered.
"It's been very impressive seeing the Sailors coming in," said Eric Carlson, St. Francis Center's development manager. "This is part of my job, working with volunteers, and just to see how hard the Sailors work and that they do that job with joy. And to a person, I have yet to see someone who is doing this because they have to. Everyone wants to do it. It's been very inspiring."
Carlson said that it is hard for residents in the downtown Los Angeles area to find fresh produce, and that the Center's goal is to provide a healthy option to the poverty stricken families.
"I felt like it was a good opportunity for us to get out there and do something," said Navy Counselor 1st Class Brenda Chavez, Anchorage's command career counselor. "I was glad that the Association was able to get together as a group to give us a chance to give back to the community as well as bond closer as a group."
The first class' prepared bags of groceries, prepared lunch, hosted a game of bingo and handed out the bagged food and linens to the community members.
"FCPOA does COMRELs to give back," said Majors. "It gives us a chance as an association to come together and make a difference in the community."
This was the eighth COMREL that the FCPOA hosted since the Anchorage was commissioned on May 4, 2013. The Anchorage is currently in Los Angeles for Navy Days LA to show the community the capabilities of the US Navy.
"Just watching the reaction has been really positive," Carlson said. "You see smiles on peoples' faces and everyone is glad for the Sailors being here."
Anchorage was built at the Huntington Ingalls Shipbuilding site in Avondale, Louisiana, and is the seventh San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship. Delivered to the U.S. Navy on Sept. 17, 2012, the ship was commissioned on May 4, 2013 in the namesake city of Anchorage, Alaska.