By Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez, 15th Wing Public Affairs
When Airmen at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam decided to organize a clothing drive within their work section, they had no idea the support and participation they would receive would be so big.
“We decided to do a clothing drive for the month of September for our building, but we ended up bringing in way more donations than we expected,” said Airman 1st Class Cheyann Smith, 647th Force Support Squadron military personnel section (647th FSS MPS). “The amount of support we received was amazing.”
Smith and her husband, Airman 1st Class Michael Smith, also 647th FSS MPS, frequently volunteer at Next Step Shelter, a local homeless shelter. After visiting the shelter a few times and speaking with people who use the shelter’s support, most people said they are in need of clothing and shoes.
“We used to go to the store and purchase clothes and shoes for families at the shelter on our own, and one day decided we should use the resources we have and organize a drive so others could donate,” Cheyann said.
The drive was initially intended for their building, hangar 2, in an area which they share with the 15th Comptroller Squadron (15th CPTS), but eventually people from all over the base began to donate. The drive lasted through September and at its conclusion, collected more than 1,000 pounds of clothing and shoes.
While delivering the clothing over a few visits to the shelter, Cheyann also helped coordinate with a 15th Wing Chapel parish that organized a dinner at the shelter. The dinner gave several volunteers and donors the opportunity to visit the shelter and help distribute the clothing and shoes.
“This was a great opportunity to help people and to see people come together for a good cause,” Cheyann said.
More than 200 people received food and were given the opportunity to receive the donations. Goodie bags were also passed out to shelter women and children.
Cheyann said organizing the drive wouldn’t have been possible without the help of everyone involved, including her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Lakisha White, 647th FSS MPS, and Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Seiler, 15th CPTS.
“They were so supportive and helped encourage me to organize the drive,” she said.