Karidat Social Services will be able to help feed families this Thanksgiving after the Saipan Southern High School Manta Ray Battalion turned over the food items they collected in their annual food drive.
Karidat executive director Angie V. Guerrero and administrative officer Judy Pangelinan received the donation in a ceremony held at the Koblerville campus yesterday morning.
Sgt. Maj. Joaquin Kiyoshi said the Manta Ray Battalion has been conducting the Thanksgiving food drive since 2003.
“We explain to them that this canned food drive is for those people in need during Thanksgiving, to help some families make their Thanksgiving special. I like to really thank the cadets for all their hard work. It's not for us; we're here to help the community,” he said.
For this year, the 130-member battalion was divided into five groups in a race to collect the most number of food items. The 12 cadets of Delta Company emerged the winner. Various stores helped their cause, including the Hannam Market, Oleai Store, and mom and pop stores. The biggest contribution came from the Joeten Stores, which donated five sacks of rice, boxes of Ritz snacks, soba, cake mix, coffee, and many others.
“For me, it feels good to be helping people who are in need. A real motivation to this was the quote from Mother Teresa, who said that it's better to give than to receive because you have happiness in your heart,” said Delta Company's Sgt. Maj. Donna Pascual.
Saipan Southern High School principal Jesse Tudela said the annual food drive is a collective effort of the Manta Ray Battalion and members of the public to give back to the community.
“I'm proud of their endeavor because it is making a difference in the community. We want to teach the students to also be part of the community and this is one way they can,” he added.
Karidat's Guerrero commended the battalion's efforts to coordinate the food drive annually.
“I admire their spirit of giving and caring for other people who are less fortunate,” she told Saipan Tribune. “It's an indication that we still have some more values in our community despite all the things that are negative in our community-all the vandalism, burglaries, corruption. I have hope that the students will be able to carry on the spirit of giving and caring in the community.”
Thursday's donation, Guerrero said, would fill up their pantry, which is currently empty as they have not received their emergency food and shelter grant to date.
“We're helping a lot now, with the economy being so bad, businesses closing down, food stamps being reduced. All those affect us and so many people are coming to us for some assistance,” she added.
Guerrero emphasized that any form of donation is welcome at Karidat, be it food items, money, household stuff or used clothing, and she thanked all their donors and sponsors for their generosity in these hard times.
“It's for people caring for other people. That makes us happy, too, that people are appreciating what other people are giving,” she said.
To donate or for more information, call Karidat at 234-5248 or 6981.