SINGAPORE - Several members from the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in a community relations project (COMREL) by volunteering at the Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen during a scheduled port visit to Singapore, Jan. 19.
Lt. Mathew Drayton, the chaplain with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163 (Reinforced), 11th MEU, and COMREL organizer, said volunteering is more than just simply helping out.
“True volunteerism is a beautiful thing no matter where you see it, and I saw it with our personnel, and I saw it at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen,” said Drayton. “To volunteer means you give your time for the sake of another. Willing Hearts worked with a skip in their step, with precision, and welcomed our partnership with open arms. What was wonderful was the diversity in the people, which in many ways is a reflection of Singapore.”
Willing Hearts is a 100 percent volunteer-based non-profit organization located in the Chai Chee Community Hub, Singapore and has been registered as a society since Feb. 2005. They provide daily meals and support services to those in need.
Volunteers prepare the food by washing and then cutting vegetables and meat products. Some, with the appropriate skill sets, would cook the prepared ingredients while others would package the cooked food in plastic foam boxes. These meals are then packed into baskets or plastic carrier bags for delivery to the various distribution centers located across the Singapore Island.
“It was a lot of work but I truly enjoyed my time with the many volunteers,” said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Kayla Faust from Madison, Wisconsin and assigned to Makin Island. “Willing Hearts is full of amazing people and it was a great experience. Times like these are what volunteering is all about.”
Willing Hearts relies largely on donations from individuals, food companies and other charitable organizations. The organization operates seven days a week, year round and serves more than 4,000 meals everyday.
Makin Island, the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, is on a deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit to promote peace and freedom of the seas by providing security and stability in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.