A group of American sailors, who have been stuck in Montreal since December because thick ice has blocked their warship from sailing, rolled up their sleeves and worked a volunteer shift in the Welcome Hall Mission Friday morning.
The Mission reached out and asked them for help when they realized they were stuck in Montreal all winter.
“We are so excited, because our volunteer engagements plummet the first three months of the year due to sickness and what not, so we are constantly in need of volunteers,” said Nancy Dossous, a coordinator at the Mission.
Twenty-one sailors packaged and prepared food, stocked it in boxes, and manned the check-out counters.
The Mission provides food to 3,000 Montrealers in need every week.
One client said he was happy the sailors were volunteering. He said it showed the servicemen have hearts aren’t just associated with war and violence.
The sailors arrived in Montreal last December, shortly after their new, US$440-million warship, the USS Little Rock, launched in Buffalo.
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The ship was meant to stop briefly in Montreal after a tour of the Maritimes on its way to Florida. But after an early, frigid winter, it got stuck in thick ice in Montreal’s port.
Seventy crew members stayed with the ship. They’ve been mainly conducting training exercises ever since.
Dossous said the Mission was thrilled the sailors said yes when she asked for help.
“I know in a few months from now these men are going to be chasing pirates in the Caribbean, literally, so it means a lot they are willing to sacrifice their time and do things like sort green onions,” she said.
As soon as the spring thaw hits, the soldiers will leave. But they told the Mission’s directors they really enjoyed helping out.
They hope to do it again before they head home.