By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Andrew P. Holmes

BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) volunteered at a community relations (COMREL) event at the Bremerton Food Bank, Oct. 22.

Stennis Sailors have been participating in COMRELs at the food bank since the Docking Planned Incremental Availability in June 2013.

“Navy people have been showing up on and off for ten years, but Stennis, as a command, is the first to come on a weekly basis,” said Patty Peterson, Executive Director of Bremerton Foodline. “We have even had the commanding officer and his wife show up to help distribute baskets during the holiday season.”

The food bank has only four paid employees, the rest of the labor is provided by volunteers. Sailors comprised approximately 20 percent of the volunteer labor force at the food bank. Last month alone Navy personnel contributed 1,325 hours of volunteer work at the food bank.

“Community relations means building trust in the community we’re at,” said Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Zachary Muncrief, Command Religious Ministries Department leading petty officer and COMREL organizer from Las Cruces, N.M. “Having the community understand we’re not here to just use up all the commodities, we’re going to support the local community grow.”

Volunteer projects like this allow Sailors to reach out and be a part of the surrounding community by working a couple of hours each week.

“I like to give back because I was less fortunate growing up,” said Quarter Master 3rd Class Shavona Arzu from Bronx, N.Y. “I like to help people, and the staff here really appreciates us. They are always smiling when they see us come in.”

Stennis participates in several weekly COMREL events, including the St. Vincent DePaul Food Bank and the Veterans Affairs Home. Interested parties can learn more about past and future COMRELs by contacting Muncrief at his command e-mail, zachary.muncrief@cvn74.navy.mil.

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