A warm meal and a smile can make a positive impact on anyone’s day, especially for those who might not know from where or when their next meal will come. Soldiers know all too well how much one warm meal can mean to someone.
Joseph’s Storehouse, a community outreach center in Hilo, opened its doors March 26 to soldiers from 25th Infantry Division based at Schofield Barracks on Oahu, and provided them an opportunity to volunteer and ensure numerous families and residents of the Hilo community were provided that warm meal.
The soldiers were preparing for training exercise Lightning Strike at Pohakuloa Training Area and found time out of their busy schedule to give back to the community. Joseph’s Storehouse along with the soldiers provided more than 100 warm meals and 100 grocery bags full of donated food to the Hilo community’s less fortunate.
“It was a blessing having the help from the soldiers today, especially with the large turnout we had,” said Kathleen “Kat” Kahai, assistant director at Joseph’s Storehouse.
Joseph’s Storehouse community outreach center located at 183 Keawe St. in Hilo, opened in August 2018. The outreach center provides lunches to Hilo’s less fortunate every Tuesday and Thursday, excluding the first week of the month.
“It was a dream I shared with my late husband after we moved back here,” said Gail Kamakahi, director and president of Joseph’s Storehouse.
“Since we opened, we’ve had soldiers from PTA come out and volunteer a handful of times, and each time has been a pleasure,” Kahai said.
Meal preparation started and 10:30 a.m., with soldiers taking direction from Laurie Medeiros, Joseph’s Storehouse’s kitchen captain. The soldiers quickly filled their roles as table bussers, servers or water distributors.
“It was a great experience and I would love to do this again,” said Sgt. Eva Olivas from the Tropic Lightning Division Artillery.
Soldiers understand that training might take priority while at PTA, but when given the opportunity they also demonstrate good stewardship in hospitality to the local community.
“We are guests on this island and this is a great opportunity to give back to those in need here,” Olivas said.
“It was our dream to give back to the community, but it is a blessing to see how it has grown with so many volunteers,” Kamakahi said.
Following Exercise Lightning Strike, PTA hosted the local community for its annual open house event now called “Experience PTA” on April 18. Parents, students, community groups and others were able to come out for the morning to learn and be inspired by all the things PTA has to offer.