By Lynette Carrington
Operation Enduring Gratitude assists veterans when there are instances of them needing specific home repairs. But another component of the nonprofit organization is that it also assists other nonprofits and worthwhile causes within the community. Operation Enduring Gratitude is holding Operation We Can October 19 through November 13 in conjunction with Western Maricopa Education Center (West-MEC).
Founder of Operation Enduring Gratitude, Charlie Ellis says, “I sit on the board at West-MEC and we wanted to unify the student bodies throughout the school district in the West Valley.” Students and their families are being encouraged to drop off canned food donations at West Valley West-MEC campuses listed here.
There are some startling statistics when it comes to Arizona and hunger. Arizona’s hunger rates are notably higher than national averages - 17.8 percent of Arizonans do not know where their next meal is coming from, compared to 15.9 percent of people nationally, and 28.2 percent of Arizonan children face hunger, compared to 21.6 percent nationally. Arizona ranks third in the United States for childhood hunger with 456,760 children being affected. We only rank behind New Mexico and Mississippi in terms of children facing hunger on a daily basis.
Two million Arizonans are considered amongst the working poor - living at or below the Federal Poverty Guideline. These people represent the majority of those served by the St. Mary’s Food Bank’s emergency food box program. More than 40 percent of the households receiving emergency food assistance have at least one person who is working.
“There’s a place for national charities,” says Charlie. “America would not be what it is today if it wasn’t for national charities. But there comes a point where, if I take care of my neighbors, I don’t need the national charities. If we all help each other at the local level, we don’t need the big conglomerates. What I’m trying to do is inspire neighbors to take care of neighbors.”
For additional information about the Operation Enduring Gratitude or to find out how you can donate time, services or supplies, visit www.OperationEnduringGratitude.org. Another great way to get up-to-date information is through the Operation Enduring Gratitude Facebook page.