By PO2 Christopher Murray
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) Public Affairs

Chief petty officers and first class petty officers attached to amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) partnered with Operation Homefront and local businesses to provide holiday meals to military families Dec. 1.

Charlotte Merriam, director of programs for Operation Homefront, region five, said the annual Holiday Meals for Military is open to military members E-1 through E-6 and their families, as well as Wounded Warriors.

"We're giving them a holiday meal kit to take home so they can prepare their own meal and spend time together as a family during the holidays," said Merriam. "Sometimes they really need it. Maybe they wouldn't be able to have a nice meal without it."

After assisting with the setup, Iwo Jima Sailors stayed to hand out meal kits to the families.

"I enjoy talking with all the Sailors' families who come through," said Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Kostick. "It's really nice to get out here and work with a lot of civilians in the community who are coming out and helping. Everyone's really friendly; it's a lot of fun."

Petty Officer 1st Class Ivy Berry said it was rewarding to be able to offer some help to those in need during the holiday season.

"When husbands and wives are deployed around the holidays, anything I can do to help lift spirits and be engaged, I'm all for it," said Berry. "I would definitely work with Operation Homefront in the future and recommend other Sailors get involved as well."

Sailors interested in volunteering with Operation Homefront can visit http://www.operationhomefront.net to sign up.

Iwo Jima is underway pursuing Mobility-Engineering (MOB-E) and Mobility-Seaman (MOB-S) certifications as part of the ship's pre-deployment qualification process.