Volunteers help keep base commissary stocked
April 19-- Apr. 19--When patrons purchase an item at the commissary at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, little do they know that item may have been stocked by a volunteer Airman.
Since March 28, teams of between five and 15 Airmen -- some officers, a chaplain and enlisted individuals -- have been working for about an hour before the store opens at 9 a.m. to ensure the shelves are as fully stocked as possible.
Commissary staff say they are delighted and thankful to have the help. With patrons buying so many products at the commissary during the current pandemic, it is a challenge to keep the shelves full, and the distribution system supporting the store has been affected by that, too, said Commissary Officer Ciro Quaranta.
"We've run out of items, and our trucks are arriving at different times with merchandise," he said. "They help a lot by compensating for the distribution interruptions, and they come in when our (stock) employees are no longer here. "The Airmen's service is beneficial," Quaranta said. "They are packing the shelves with merchandise the customers are waiting for."
The Airmen are stocking dry goods as that is the easiest merchandise category for them to manage, he added.
"These individuals are good at improvising. We give them a crash course training that lasts about five minutes, along with safety or latex gloves and a safety boxcutter and badge," he said.
"They don't fool around," Quaranta continued. "They are assigned an area and they take care of business. It has been great for us."
Some of the Airmen are in uniform as they volunteer.
"I am here to serve them, and they are helping me serve them," he noted. "It's a great circle and they are mostly young and fun."
Quaranta looks back at the first call he had to issue for volunteers to come help with a stock load.
"They were here so fast -- in a matter of just a few hours. They were so efficient even though they perform entirely different kinds of work," he said. "It was incredible. It really blew my mind."
Airman 1st Class Miles Lacer, in training to be a cybersecurity technician with the 88th Communications Squadron, has only been stationed at Wright-Patt since January but is already finding a way to contribute to the community with his commissary volunteerism.
He has been stocking baby food, vitamins, body wash, cosmetics and shaving items.
"I'm a lot more familiar with what is in which aisle now," he laughed.
"It sounded like a fantastic opportunity and I am happy to do it," Lacer said. "It's a fun thing to do. The time goes by fast and you get to meet some new people."
Plans call for the volunteers to keep assisting until at least April 28, Quaranta said.