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Sky Warriors feed Hawaii's needy

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MARCOA Media
Story by 2nd Lt. Amber Kelly-Herard on 09/03/2019
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, HawaiiAs a 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron Traffic Management cargo handler, Senior Airman Matthew Harney is responsible for sending and receiving more than 1,100 pieces of cargo across the globe monthly.

No stranger to logistical challenges, Harney also led more than 400 Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Airmen and Sailors in providing 4,986 meals to those in need across Oahu.

This all started when the Las Vegas, Nevada, native participated in a smaller-scale project early into his assignment here.

"I came up with a plan to make the event bigger and better and I basically took it and ran with it," said Harney, who arrived here in 2016. "The event has tremendously grown each time, and I have learned to correct small things to make the whole project move more efficiently."

Harney credits his logistical knowledge for his accomplishments.
Harney explained each event requires approval from security forces, public health, the building manager, and the wing commander and command chief. Additionally, Harney coordinates volunteers to donate supplies and prepare the meals.

"I'm very proud of myself for sticking with this," he said. "I started out unprepared and not knowing what to expect as far as everything that is needed to make this work. It is extremely rewarding to see the effect this has had on the community as well as our fellow Airmen and Sailors."

Harney also acknowledges he would not be successful without his leadership and the countless volunteers.

"I'm very proud of Senior Airman Harney's efforts and initiative to help make a difference here on Oahu," said Tech. Sgt. Sarah Bippert, 647th LRS Cargo Movement non-commissioned officer in charge. "It just shows that anyone can help make a difference. He has grown into an exceptional role model and inspires others to embody the Air Force Core Values."

Although Harney is giving back to the community, his endeavor has not been without reward.

"I walked up to a homeless family at one of the parks in Waikiki and I'm not going to lie, I was devastated to see that," Harney recounted. "The husband of the family only requested one meal for his whole family because he wanted to make sure that everybody else in the park received a meal too."

"The people we've met are some of the kindest souls with the biggest heart," he added.

According to the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, as of January 2018, more than 6,500 people experience homelessness in Hawaii daily.

The fifth Semi-Annual Homeless Sack Lunch Event is slated for February. As Harney prepares for his next assignment, Senior Airman Aries Garcia will be the new project lead.

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