The USO of NC Sandhills Area partnered with Feed The Children (FTC) organization Nov. 20 to provide food and supplies to 400 Fort Bragg Families who were impacted by the recent hurricanes Florence and Michael.

The USO worked closely with Bragg chaplains to determine which Families were in need of this aid. Each preselected recipient was given one 25-pound box of nonperishable food items and one box of personal-care items. In total, 15,957 pounds of food and hygiene supplies were distributed among the Families at the Fort Bragg Fairgrounds.

The food box was filled with items such as spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, bottled sauces and more, said Renee Lane, USO Sandhills Area director.

“It’s things that you would normally have in the pantry that may have been lost during the storm,” Lane said. “These are 400 of the most impacted Families that we have here on the installation.”

During the drive, eligible Families drove up to the gate of the fairgrounds, checked in with a USO representative, went to the first station to pick up a food box and then the last station to pick up a supply box — all without having to get out of their vehicles.

Two 3rd Special Forces Group (3rd SFG) Soldiers Pfc. James Smith, religious affairs specialist, and Chaplain (Maj.) Brian Minietta, were a few of the many Soldiers who volunteered to hand out boxes that Tuesday. According to Smith, these donations were to help Families in need through the holiday season and Soldiers be more focused on their mission.

“I think it’s very important for Soldiers to have the essentials for their home so they don’t have to worry about going to the grocery store without having the money to do it, or using the credit card, so that they’re not having additional financial burdens,” Smith said.

Supply vouchers were passed out by religious services to various Fort Bragg units and through those organizations, they were distributed to affected Families, said Minietta.

“I think it’s important to help everybody in a time of need,” he said. “It’s especially gratifying to have that opportunity to give back to people (Families) who give so much.”

For 3rd SFG, this effort lines up with two of the unit’s priorities: Soldiers, Families and civilians and operational readiness.

“It’s kind of nice to have an opportunity to hit two of our main priorities with this one event,” Minietta said. “If you can take care of Families (and) take care of their needs, that makes a better Soldier. That makes a more operationally ready and fit unit … It enables them to focus on their duties if there are less things to worry about at home.”

The partnership between the USO and FTC has been a long standing one, said Margaret Clevenger, USO of North Carolina communications director. The organization reached out to the USO right after the hurricane to offer assistance.

“Around the holidays, it’s always great to show our service members that we are here and our mission is to connect them to Family, home and country,” Clevenger said.