Chapel hikes deliver food, good will to remote villages

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kimberly Moore
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
The Friendship Chapel here sponsors monthly hiking trips that partner members of Joint Task Force-Bravo with community leaders, members of city hall and World Food Program officials to provide support to surrounding villages in need of food and supplies.

The most recent hike took place Jan. 22.

Chapel hikes allow members to interact with Hondurans while providing them with necessary sustainment foods, said Chaplain (Capt.) Charles Seligman.

"The amount of food we provide is directly reflective of the generous donations from personnel assigned to Soto Cano Air Base, a true testament of the American spirit," Chaplain Seligman said. "Once we know how much money we have to purchase food, we have our (non-government organization representative) at the World Food Program locate a village in need, and then we meet with the patronato (town father) and he chooses families to receive our donations. (Then) we schedule the hike and volunteers sign up to transport the donations."

The Jan. 22 hike was the third for Chaplain Seligman since his arrival here in October 2010, but members here have been conducting these hikes since 2007.

"January's hike was to the villages of Las Delicias and Guayabal where we hiked through a coffee plantation owned by retired Lt. Col. Arturo Buxo," Chaplain Seligman said. "There is a lot of need in the two villages, so this location just felt like a good fit."

Many of the hike participants disbursed hygiene items, as well as food items such as rice, salt, oats, sugar, soup, pasta and flour, just to mention a few.

"This was the first time we donated hygiene items," he said. "I asked participants to bring items we take for granted every day. Items like soap, lotion, toothpaste and toothbrushes can become a luxury when resources are scarce, so the hike participants provided these items."

And the chaplain said there was a lot to hand out.

"This was probably the largest attendance in recent history," he said. "We had 107 members volunteer to go on the hike and we received more monetary donations than ever before. On November's hike, we probably only had half as many bags to donate and the bags themselves weren't as full as January's hike. The people we visited were blessed beyond what we've ever been able to do before."

The chapel hikes benefit not only the local people, but the members of JTF-Bravo as well, he said.

"Chapel hikes are valuable to (JTF-Bravo members) in promoting security through friendships," Chaplain Seligman said. "We get to meet each other, shake hands, play soccer and have fun together, in turn promoting democratic values. All of this is important for regional stability where there's strength in unity."

The chaplain said he was pleased the level of participation in January's hike.

"I couldn't believe the turnout," he said. "Everyone here is so eager to be part of positive activities. It reveals a lot about the volunteer spirit of America. We pull together and accomplish amazing things."