SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A group of submariners took to San Diego's streets earlier this week to deliver about 500 pounds of food, water and clothing to the homeless in downtown, U.S. Navy officials announced Friday.
The sailors assigned to the Submarine Learning Center detachment made the deliveries on Wednesday and hope to turn their initiative into a monthly activity involving additional commands. Their unit coordinates submarine training and education.
The Navy said Gunner's Mate 1st Class Jason Anderson coordinated the effort when he saw how many homeless people camped on the sidewalks at night when he lived downtown.
"We ended up talking to a few of them and decided this was something we could do to help the problem," Anderson said. "I asked the command one day if anyone was interested in doing it, and we ended up getting a huge turnout."
He said sailors from his unit and their families made the donations, sorted male and female clothing, and put all the items into bags.
"I visualize donation boxes, like Toys for Tots, being at multiple commands or around the whole region," Anderson said. "I think we can make a pretty good impact. It's all about having a conversation with the people, shaking their hand and letting them know someone cares."
He said area service members particularly need to reach out to homeless veterans.
"San Diego is a huge military community, and we have the ability to do a lot if we mobilize," Anderson said. "There are a lot of homeless veterans out there on the street right now. They're still our shipmates, fellow Marines and our comrades. I want to help them."
According to the San Diego Housing Commission, there are 9,700 homeless people in San Diego County, with two-thirds of them living within the city of San Diego. A recent study by the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless found around 1,700 homeless veterans in the region.