Stranded in Montreal, U.S. sailors volunteer at Welcome Hall Mission
Published Friday, February 23, 2018 1:52PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 23, 2018 7:01PM EST
A crew of U.S. sailors stuck in Montreal since December has been putting their time to good use.
In addition to training exercises aboard their vessel and learning how to deal with subzero weather, they have been taking part in volunteer activities on dry land.
On Friday, they volunteered at the Welcome Hall Mission, helping unload boxes of food and preparing items for those in need.
They prepared and served food to some of the 3,000 people who come to the Welcome Hall market to stock up on groceries.
Volunteer co-ordinator Nancy Dossous reached out to the sailors and asked for help.
"Sailors are super-close to my heart. My father was a veteran of the U.S. Navy, so as an American I was super-excited to bring these American sailors here, but also as a Montrealer I'm really excited to show them how we reach out to those in need, how we respond to immigrants, how we respond to families living under the poverty line, to show them how we facilitate the free distribution of food," said Dossous.
"One of the sailors even said 'wow, so this is all for free? We don't have anything like this in the U.S.'"
Dossous said there’s a never-ending need for volunteers to help at the mission.
“Sometimes you feel like you need a small army to get this done, which is great because we have the navy today – but we constantly need this influx of volunteers that are willing to sacrifice a few hours,” she said.
The sailors are expected to return to the food bank several times over the next month.
The crew of the U.S.S. Little Rock began in mid-December, when their new vessel was commissioned in Buffalo, N.Y.
By the time they reached Montreal, the ice was unusually thick and their vessel got stuck.
The ship will likely be freed of the ice in mid-March, at which point the Little Rock will continue its journey to Florida.
The crew wants to keep a low profile while in Montreal and is not speaking to the media, but this won't likely be their last volunteer operation.