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Hoops, shots, sweets earn dollars for military families facing crisis

By Verda L. Parker | Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany | April 8, 2016

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“Ballers,” shooters and bakers aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany signed up for several activities in support of the kick-off of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Annual Fund Drive held here, recently.

Marines, Sailors and civilian-Marine volunteers joined forces to lend their athletic, marksmanship and culinary skills to contribute to the “worthwhile cause” in collecting dollars to assist military families through their time of unexpected, temporary crisis.

CWO3 Montreal Newkirk, case worker, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, commented on the overall purpose of the events as well as some of the scheduled activities and the participants who engaged in the events.

“The events we have conducted over the past month, (are for) the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society’s active-duty fund drive, which (commenced) on February 26,” Newkirk said. “We did a mini-kickoff and introduction at the Base Theater.

“That was really focused on targeting the active-duty personnel,” he noted. “The activities (we have planned for the fund drive) should run until around the April 15 timeframe.”

The first of three activities scheduled for the fund drive was a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, which was held at MCLB Albany’s Thomason Gym. Players and onlookers sat on the sideline cheering for their teammates and/or waiting to get their chance on the court.

According to Newkirk, eight teams participated in the double-elimination tournament and 1st and 2nd place trophies were awarded to the top two winning teams.

“The 1st place team was Maj. (Lee) Taylor’s team,” Newkirk said. “They really didn’t give me a team name; and, the 2nd place winners were a team from (Communications and Information Systems Division, MCLB Albany) named, Ball is Life.”

Active-duty and civilian-Marines took to the woods for the second of three activities scheduled during the fund drive.

Muffled voices and the sounds of air-pumped weapons being fired echoed through the rain and haze from a few feet inside a wooded tree-lined area during a Paintball Tournament aboard the installation, recently.

Participants teamed-up, dressed in protective gear for what many said was a “worthwhile cause  and camaraderie” to, again, add to the pot of money for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society Fund Drive, here.

Volunteer and tournament spectator, Sgt. Shada Middleton, postal clerk, MCLB Albany Post Office, commented on the rainy-morning event, which drew a number of five-man teams to the woods to participate in the activity.

“I am out here to support the Navy-Marine Corps (Relief) Society,” Middleton said. “I volunteered to help set-up and I’m also here just as a spectator.”

Middleton outlined some of the rules and guidelines explained to participants in the Paintball Tournament.

“It’s a five-versus-five, double elimination (per two-team competition),” she explained. “(Teams) have 10-minute (rounds) to eliminate the other team; if there are two men left at the end of the 10 minutes, they will go into a sudden-death (match). As soon as the one man left gets eliminated, the other team wins.”

Safety for personnel as well as the environment’s inhabitants was a key concern during the tournament; as such, Sgt. Greg Reider, assistant game warden, Installations and Environment Division, MCLB Albany, was on hand to ensure precautions were taken to protect both.

“I’m out here to push forward the knowledge of (there being) other animals out there -- like deer who have shed their antlers,” Rieder pointed out. “Also, there could be hazard prevention for snakes. (I want to ensure) that nobody’s harming the snakes; we can relocate them peacefully and nobody gets injured (in the process). I’m really here to provide a supervised safety component.”

The final fund-raising activity for the drive was a bake sale, which was held at the Naval Branch Health Clinic-Albany, recently.

There was neither a shortage of sweets nor a deficiency of patients and patrons with sweet-tooth cravings for the items strategically lined on a table located inside the clinic’s lobby.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Louis Amaya Sanchez, laboratory technician, NBHC-Albany, said rather than just asking for donations, volunteers decided to offer donors an assortment of cookies, cupcakes, donuts and other pastries for their monetary gifts.

“We threw a bake sale to collect funds for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society,” Amaya, the clinic’s representative, said. “Basically, donations we get are (through) allotments, online or cash. This year, we tried to take a more proactive approach; we actually threw an event to collect money for (the fund drive).

“People (who) don’t donate feel more inclined to (contribute) when they see food or (some other items),” he added. “So, that’s what we decided to target this year. These are all (desserts) that the clinic’s people have (baked and) brought. Some of our civilian staff and even some of our (Veterans Administration) staff who work here were happy to help because they work with some of our veterans here.”

“We are always happy to participate in whatever events (the Marines) have, even if it’s volunteering to help set up or doing other things,” he concluded. “Many Sailors and Marines know about (Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society), and it’s something most will use, at least once, during their careers. So, it is good for us to support the cause because the funds are well used and it helps our veterans and service members when they really need it.”

Gregory Clark, U.S. Army veteran, said he came to the clinic for an appointment, but when he saw the table of “goodies,” he wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to support the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society fund drive.

“They do so much for me and for so many other veterans,” Clark said. “I hope that more people, who read about it and have heard about it and how crucial it is, will come out and support it. Not just to veterans but also for our vital active-duty service members and their families as well.

“I think if people would just see the big pictures, the sacrifices that family members contribute to the wellbeing of active-duty personnel, they would do more to support efforts such as this,” Clark concluded.
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