Union MVPs help feed homeless in Tacoma

TACOMA — Homeless people in Tacoma will enjoy hot and hearty holiday dinners thanks to the efforts of Machinists Union volunteers.

In the past week, members of the Machinists Volunteer Program have delivered 58 turkeys and seven hams to the Tacoma Rescue Mission, plus checks and cash totaling $1,458.

That should be enough to meet the need for Thanksgiving meals, with some left over for Christmas, the volunteers said.

The food and money were all collected by union stewards with Machinists Union District Lodge 751. In addition, Local Lodge 751-C donated $400.

“Our members volunteer in the mission’s kitchen several times a month, and they see the need there,” said Robley Evans, the president of the MVP Committee, which is the community service arm of District 751. “We’re serving more meals to more people, and more families are coming in.”

According to those volunteers, the number of people who come to the mission seeking meals has more than doubled this fall, to the point that they’re regularly feeding 350 people.

In addition, the mission has also increased the services it provides to homeless veterans in the Tacoma area.

Yet while demand for meals and other services increases, the volume of donations to the missions has fallen off this fall, as work on Tacoma’s new light rail link has made it harder for people to reach the mission to drop off food or other donations.

“Our members saw a need and acted,” said Tom Wroblewski, the president of Machinists District 751. “They didn’t wait to be asked. That kind of community service really is something to admire.”

District 751 MVPs will continue to help feed people in need this winter. On Dec. 3, union volunteers will take part in KING-TV’s annual Hometeam Harvest food drive to benefit Northwest Harvest. Last year, some 200 union members turned out to help collect donated food and load it into semi-trailers.

Union volunteers also plan to serve breakfast at the Tacoma mission on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at Boeing, District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents some 30,500 working men and women at 45 employers across Washington, Oregon and California. In 2010, District 751 members gave nearly 6,200 hours of volunteer community service and raised more than $276,000 for Guide Dogs of Americathe union’s charity of choice.

Become a fan of IAM 751 on Facebook.

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