Gr8 Acts of Kindness winners feed the needs of local veterans

Published: Dec. 29, 2021 at 10:45 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2021 at 11:11 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - It’s a Wednesday, the usual food distribution day at VFW Post 1991 in Jonesboro.

“It gives me food,” Ronald Sutherland said.

For some, it’s been a long time since their service to the country.

“I was signed up for about six years,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland is one of the many veterans who come twice a month for food.

“I was on a ship and I was a qualified helmsman,” Sutherland said of his service in the Navy. “I got to steer the ship.”

That was in the Mediterranean. Today, he drove in from Marmaduke.

“It means a lot to me, obviously,” Sutherland said of the food he received from the VFW food pantry.

CARES Act funding, due to the pandemic, allowed the VFW to create a food pantry.

“Nothing goes to waste. Nothing,” Robert Murphy, senior vice commander of the VFW Post 1991, said.

In fact, the VFW gets help from a couple who works to feed hundreds of people around town through their meal prep business.

“So, we had extra food every week that we would make,” Chris Sanders, December winner of the Gr8 Acts of Kindness, said. “We’ve gone down several avenues as far as I’d go downtown and try and find the homeless or you know people living on Main Street and give it to them.”

“So, we hope it fills the gaps and we hope that you know it’s doing what we want it to which is just feeding hungry people and the veterans,” Jennifer Sanders, December winner of the Gr8 Acts of Kindness, said. “This program has taken off and we’re really just donating to it.”

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Instead of just getting a box of food and supplies, thanks to the Sanders, they also take home a home-cooked meal.

“To watch the veterans’ faces when they walk in,” Murphy said. “They may or may not have had a home-cooked meal in a while maybe living on Campbell soup to walk in and get something like that. Yeah, it was worth it. To watch I mean, we literally had tears in people’s eyes as they walked out and it wasn’t just them, it was also us.”

Chris Sanders knows a bit more about military life than most.

“Started with the National Guard here locally and then went to Fort Knox, Kentucky in active duty Army,” Chris said.

Then, he came home, married Jennifer and they started a family that includes Callie, Maddox, Berkeley, and Scarlett.

During the early days of the pandemic, they researched and eventually launched their new business, called BARE Nutrition, and leased the kitchen at the VFW.

“Chris and I are both really into giving back, but we don’t really know how to,” Jennifer said. “This is just a great opportunity.”

Everyone pitches in to help. The Sanders have even helped provide the Thanksgiving meal.

“Chris and Jennifer have really bent over backwards to help this post with our endeavors,” Murphy said.

So, we had the VFW help us arrange to surprise the Sanders family.

They thought the Health Department was coming for an inspection.

“You’re not the health inspectors!” Chris and Jennifer laughed.

“Chris and Jennifer, I’ve brought along a few of my friends from First Community Bank and KAIT,” I said. “Our veterans have sacrificed. Their families have sacrificed to ensure that our freedoms are preserved.”

“What you are doing here locally in our community, providing the food and the meals for these veterans, the homeless and the police and the fire department, we can’t thank you enough,” David Daniel, business development officer at First Community Bank, said.

“Three hundred, four, five six, seven, eight. $408 dollars!” I counted the cash into Jennifer’s hand.

The Sanders even feed the fire department on weeks when the VFW food distribution does not happen.

Always giving...knowing that the battlefield may be far away; but the need for food is ever-present.

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