Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class David A. Cox

SINGAPORE – Sailors from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 participated in a community service project at Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen in Chai Chee, Singapore, April 20.

Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen provides meals to low income families, the elderly and the disabled by cooking and packaging three meals a day, from sunrise to long after sunset.

More than 30 Sailors volunteered at the event, cooking more than 300 pounds of rice and creating approximately 5,000 meals.

Chief Machinist’s Mate Brandon Miller from Atlanta, one of the organizers for the volunteer event, said that having the extra people helped to give the regular volunteers a much-needed break.

“We had Sailors creating lunch boxes, cooking rice, frying food, cooking vegetables, bagging lunches, loading the lunches into delivery vehicles and unloading vegetables,” said Miller. “We finished 30 minutes earlier than usual, but that says a lot about how efficient the regular volunteers are since they don’t typically have 30 people to help them, and they do this all day, everyday. It’s amazing.”

Many of the recipients of the food from Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen are Singaporeans who are unable to leave their homes. Because of this, Willing Hearts delivers the food they make instead of serving from one central location. The lunches are sent to over 50 locations across Singapore. The facility uses only fresh meats and vegetables that are donated by local supermarkets from around the region.

“Coming out here has a direct and positive impact on the local community,” said Miller. “Some of the people working at the facility may never have seen U.S. Navy Sailors, so being able to work alongside them builds camaraderie and directly impacts their perception of each person, the Stennis crew, the U.S. Navy and the United States of America.”

Volunteer opportunities for Sailors continue to be rewarding experiences. Logistics Specialist Seaman Vanessa Abney from Spartanburg, S.C., one of the volunteers at the event, said that being able to help the local community filled her with a sense of pride.

“My favorite part of the event was looking around and seeing all my shipmates cooking, plating food and cleaning,” said Abney. “We weren’t thinking of anything else but feeding the hungry. It made me feel proud.”
Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, John C. Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.
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