During this challenging time, making sure families have access to basic food and necessities is paramount. In Kentucky, the Red Cross Helping Hands food bank on base at Ft. Knox is reaching out to help military families stay fully stocked. We sat down and spoke with May Giulitto, Red Cross manager at Helping Hands, to learn more about her work with the military community during this trying time.
What is Helping Hands?
Helping Hands is a local Red Cross program that provides non-perishable food, clothing and household goods to active duty military, the National Guard, retirees and veterans that are in financial need on base. We also have a lending closet to help soldiers who need temporary household goods while they wait for their items to return from overseas.
How are you helping during COVID-19?
Currently, the need for essentials is large. We’ve been providing a lot of food assistance to military families during this pandemic. We’ve seen an uptick in the need for diapers, so we’ve been providing a lot of those to families in need. We’re helping widows of deceased veterans who need food and other necessities.. A large part of our mission also involves making sure we adhere to social distancing protocols while we distribute supplies to quarantined barracks. These supplies include comfort kits, sheets, snacks and more. They go to soldiers and family members who are coming from high risk areas or have been ill.
Who helps you at Helping Hands?
I’m very fortunate to have so many amazing Red Cross volunteers. I couldn’t do it alone. So many people pitch in to keep our shelves full, help organize and distribute items when needed. It’s people just like my volunteer lead Tangela Brooks, a retired veteran, who make this work. She gives back to her community by supporting it through Helping Hands.
What makes Helping Hands unique?
We seek out ways to help meet the needs of the military community here. Whether that be through holiday programs like Thanksgiving dinners or Santa’s workshops or just providing full meals for families, just because, we’re here. We’re always open for emergency cases.
Why did you start this and what motivates you?
I took this on because I’m a retired military spouse and my heart is in this. My husband told me this was the job for me because I had already spent half of my life volunteering for the Red Cross, so why not. To be honest, the first day, the phone didn’t ring, and nobody came to the door. Six months later, people were coming in full force to get food for their families. Ten years and three warehouses later, now we run a full operation to help the military community.
What do you want people to know about Helping Hands?
Our doors are open to you. Come on in! It’s important for us to support the military in this way. The Red Cross has always been there for the military, and the military looks to the Red Cross especially in emergencies. The value of us being available, especially during this time, is instrumental.
If you’re interested in learning more about the services at Helping Hands in Ft. Knox or would like to volunteer, click here to find out more.