Various individuals and organizations have worked to provide the installation Holiday Helper program with donations to ensure military Families have the resources to celebrate the holiday season.
One of those individuals, Marion “Bubba” Jones, has taken that cause to heart.
Jones is a sign maker with a Directorate of Public Works and Logistics contractor. For the past two years, he has dedicated himself in ongoing efforts to donate new bicycles to the program that provides gifts and food vouchers to military Families requiring financial assistance.
“I do it because of my mom,” said Jones, noting his mom did much to support the community. “My mom was a giving person all of her life. I lost her four years ago and I kind of kept up with what she used to do, so this is my version of what she would do.”
Mary Jones would no doubt be proud of her son. The Holiday Helper program had only a few bicycles three years ago, but thanks to Jones and his supporters, this year the program can boast of at least 35 new two-wheelers. Jones assembled the bicycles for display at an informal luncheon held at the DPWL headquarters Nov. 30. Army Community Service director Karen McComas was one of the attendees.
“Bubba means a lot to this program,” said McComas, whose agency runs the Holiday Helper program. “He works all summer selling water, he does it from the heart and it means so much.”
Jones said he is able to purchase the bicycles through the acquisition of bottled water. Organizations and individuals donate the water to Jones who offers the drinks to fellow employees for a 50-cent donation. The donations hit a peak in the summer but Jones offers the drinks year-round. He also makes bicycle purchases throughout the year, and bought a record number this year.
“Last year we got 18 bikes and had the helmets donated,” recalled Jones. “This year we have 35 bikes, and the PX cut us a good deal on the helmets, plus we donated to the diabetic and cancer societies and two or three people in need during the year, so it’s getting bigger every year.”
Jones, a man with slight build and thick graying mustache, sported a Santa’s hat that complemented his Virginia Tech Hokie sweatshirt during the luncheon. That was a far-cry from the baggy Santa suit he wore last year for the same occasion. But this year he wanted to convey the seriousness of this year’s effort, which he dedicated to Soldiers, his late friend and fellow employee Alonzo Taylor, recently released fellow employees and the 32 victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.
“It was a sad year,” said Jones.
It might have been a distressing year, but it would be difficult to see it past Jones’ giving spirit – the legacy of maternal lineage.
“My mother was like that and my grandmother was like that,” said Jones. “They would see a need and they would kind of run with it. I’m like them. We just start out with an idea and kind of run with it.”
Those interested in donating to the Holiday Helper program can call ACS at (804) 734-6878.