Wanting to become a larger part of the community and always looking for ways to help others, the Arena Football League’s Columbus Destroyers made a trip to the Delaware M.A.S.H. Pantry, 222 E. William St., Tuesday afternoon to donate several needed items to the veterans organization.
“Anytime we can give back to this community we want to be a part of it,” said quarterback Grant Russell. “We want to get the word out. It’s the kind of place that is so incredible for veterans to come together — it’s just awesome.”
“No veteran, military family, or survivor will go without … at least not on our watch,” states the home page of the M.A.S.H. (Military and Service Heroes) website.
It was the team’s behind-the-scenes man, Dominic Jones, director of football operations, who set up the visit to the Delaware M.A.S.H. Pantry.
Jones said on Monday, he and his interns went on a shopping excursion to collect the items the pantry is always looking for.
“It’s a great cause,” he said. “We picked up some toiletries, some popular cereals, dry pasta, rice, and peanut butter and jelly.”
Jones said the team learned of the M.A.S.H. Pantry through working with the Community Shelter Board in Columbus that works with the area homeless.
“Just through that round of people, we talked about veterans and how we can support the cause,” he said. “It was one of our co-workers that helped connect all the dots.”
Having many military veterans in his family, Ace Clark, the team’s jack linebacker, said he appreciates those who “put their lives on the line to protect us.”
“A lot of them, unfortunately, when they get out of the service, they often have to fend for themselves because they don’t have the resources, which don’t make sense because they put their lives on the line in the military,” he said. “It’s a great thing they are doing here at M.A.S.H.”
Clark said it’s great that there are people who show veterans they’re appreciated.
According to Jones, the team is holding a food drive during this Saturday’s game when the Destroyers host the Philadelphia Soul starting at 7 p.m. in Nationwide Arena, Columbus.
Tonya Freeman, Delaware M.A.S.H. coordinator, said it’s always a good surprise when someone shows up to donate.
“They are young, strapping men. You’d think they would have something better to do,” she said. “It actually means a lot that they are here. The donations are awesome, because we can always use toilet paper, and we were out of jelly.”
In 2015, Amber Hudson opened her first M.A.S.H. Pantry and Resource Center in Columbus, later moving it to Grove City. Since that time, she has opened one at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, at the Defense Supply Center Columbus – Defense Logistics Agency, and in February she opened the Delaware location.
M.A.S.H. Pantry is a nonprofit offering military families and survivors clothing, personal hygiene items, and diapers for children; resources for post-traumatic shock disorder (PTSD) with peer support meetings; and if veterans can’t get to a M.A.S.H. location, a mobile outreach program goes to them and the community.
Hudson’s organization runs on donations and a group of volunteers who make veterans feel at home with plenty of free hugs for all.
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.