Local Military Non-Profit Helps Feed Thousands of Families - kcentv.com - KCEN HD - Waco, Temple, and Killeen

Local Military Non-Profit Helps Feed Thousands of Families

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(KCEN) – It was a time in his life when he didn't know where to turn; he didn't know how he was going to make it to his next paycheck.

“When I first moved to Texas I was a single dad, and I came here with $40 in my pocket,” Specialist Kurtis Seaholm said. “My ex-wife took everything so it was just me and my son.”

He applied for military emergency assistance, but it wasn't enough. It wasn't until he found Operation Phantom Support, that his hope was renewed.

“They helped me a lot. They gave me just about everything I needed just to survive and then some,” he said.

A non-profit located in downtown Killeen, Operation Phantom was started in January when retired veteran John Valentine bought out the previous organization that was currently operating there.

“It became a local Fort Hood charity versus a national charity because I felt the mission was more important here locally,” Valentine said.

Since January, they kick started several programs within the non-profit aimed at helping and providing different assistance to local military and veteran families. The most popular, and the one growing the fastest is their Operation Feed Our Heroes food pantry.

“It's growing exponentially quick so we're in desperate need of help,” he said. “We do what we can to help as many people as we can.”

Since January their food pantry has serviced more than 21,000 individuals and more than 87,000 military and veteran family members. Just recently after being featured in a national NBC story about the growing need for military assistance, his membership grew by 200 within a week and a half.

He's now serving about 1,000 people each week every Thursday and Saturday, giving out between 12,000– 15,000 pounds of food each week. The veterans or soldiers only have to pay a $10 donation each month, and they're able to go to the pantry eight times a month saving hundreds of dollars in groceries. Or active duty and veterans can visit once a month for free.

“We're getting a lot more veterans, more soldiers are coming back from deployments that are struggling, and the downsizing… we're doing what we can but the growth has been a little overwhelming,” Valentine said.

Valentine says they're now asking for more donations, business sponsorships, and about 10 to 20 additional volunteers who can work a few hours during the pantry days.

For Kurtis – it was an easy decision. “With out this organization I wouldn't be as good of shape I am today. I owe them a lot,” he said. “I started volunteering here because it's for people like me, and you know I still need this place sometimes.”

Valentine says to help with the growing need, they are also in the development process of another program called Operation Green Ops. They are raising money to build 20 greenhouses to produce thousands of pounds of food each week to give out in the pantry.

To learn more about the military assistance programs provided by Operation Phantom Support (click here).

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