Volunteers Pack Hygiene Kits at FFTP Veterans Day Event
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2022) – More than 70 volunteers came to Food For The Poor on Friday to pack 1,960 hygiene kits for local veterans in need and for families in the countries helped by FFTP during the charity’s inaugural Honoring Our Veterans Community Day Event.
The day began with a special program recognizing members of local veterans organizations as well as FFTP team members who have served. Volunteers then moved to the charity’s warehouse to pack the kits.
Retired from Army Special Forces, Gulf War veteran Sgt. Maj. Darrick Kimbrough, of Pompano Beach, said he felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to see so many people working together during the packing event.
“This shows that people do care. People do remember,” Kimbrough said. “Almost everybody either knows a veteran or has a veteran in their family.”
FFTP President/CEO Ed Raine said the charity is proud to honor veterans in a meaningful way and in what is hoped to become an annual event.
“It is something we should never take for granted that so few have offered so much for so many,” said Raine, whose late father and grandfather were both veterans.
As FFTP looked to commemorate Veterans Day, Raine said the charity turned to veterans groups and asked them how it could help. About 750 of the kits packed on Friday will go to help local veterans.
“The response was [that] there was a need for the hygiene kits by veterans right here in our own community, as well as for the people we serve in our countries every day,” Raine said. “We owe a special thanks to everyone who volunteered their time to pack these kits with items that many of us may take for granted. But for those in need, this is a necessity.”
Jamie A. Plastina is a registered nurse and business development manager for BrightStar Care, which serves more than 100 veterans in Broward County. Plastina heard about the event on her way to work on Friday and knew she wanted to be part of it.
“Knowing that this is helping veterans is everything. It is so important,” Plastina said. “Some of these kits will actually go to veterans that we serve, which is wonderful.”
Carl Noriega, who comes from a family of veterans including his father, brothers and uncle, said he couldn’t think of a better place to be on Veterans Day.
“It’s gratifying. It’s fulfilling,” said Noriega, a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Bonaventure Church in Davie. “You’re giving back. You’re paying it forward. That’s what life is about. This is a small token of appreciation for our veterans.”
Army Col. J. Frank Melgarejo Jr., Chief of the Theater Civil Affairs Planning Team South at United States Southern Command, a longtime FFTP partner, was the keynote speaker during the program that preceded the packing event.
“It means a lot when strangers you don’t know stop you and say thank you for your service,” Col. Melgarejo said. “It wasn’t until you get older that you realize what that really means.”
Other distinguished guests included Coconut Creek Police Sgt. Raphael Marin, a military veteran, who led the Pledge of Allegiance, and firefighters from the Coconut Creek Fire Department, who joined the volunteers to pack the hygiene kits.
Food For The Poor, one of the largest international relief and development organizations in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry children and families living in poverty primarily in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, water, medicine, educational materials, homes, support for vulnerable children, care for the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.