Marine Corps Base Quantico -- Three days before Christmas, a gift came early for families in the Quantico community.
The National Sojourners Quantico Chapter’s 44 members assembled at the Quantico Marine Corps Base Commissary before sunrise on Dec. 22 to pick up groceries for their annual Christmas Food Basket program. The group was joined by Base Commander Col. Joseph Murray; Col. Allen Broughton, chief of staff, Marine Corps National Capital Region/Marine Corps Base Quantico; Sergeant Maj. Gerald Saunders, base sergeant major; and active duty Marines.
Following the loading of each basket with a turkey, ham, cornbread dressing and more, the group delivered the food baskets, which were made to feed five, to homes within the Quantico region.
“I feel so blessed,” said one of the recipients of a basket. This year Chapter 44 raised more than $3,000 to donate to the local community through their Christmas Basket program.
Since 1975 members of The National Sojourners Quantico Chapter 44 have donated food baskets during December to low income families. Col. Frank Harris, retired, National Sojourners Quantico member, attributes the funds raised to donations from members and local merchants.
“There are people in need and we all recognize that,” said Col. Frank Harris, retired, a Ridley Park, Pennsylvania native. He has coordinated the holiday event for 15 years with the help of local volunteers. He turned over the reins of the operation to retired Maj. Donald Ritenour, a fellow of the organization for next year’s donation.
Harris has a long history here at Quantico. The 91- year- old Marine Corps veteran attended Platoon Commander’s School here in 1945 and retired from the military in 1976.
“We are Marines helping Marines,” he continued.
Food donation programs in the military rarely extend to the community. But the group of veterans didn’t limit their charity to their fellow infantrymen; instead they generously branched out to support families in the Town of Quantico, Triangle, Va. and active duty Marines aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico.
“Every year we look forward to seeing the smiles and hearing the gracious thank you’s from people when they open the door to receive the food,” said Ritenour, who retired from active duty in 1978.
Ritenour mentioned that it is important to support the Marines on the base that need some assistance. He recalled supporting the event when Quantico’s commissary was located next to building 2012, an old steam plant. He said he will continue to support the program for many years to come.