FORT IRWIN, Calif. — During the month of November, the Fort Irwin Sergeant Audie Murphy Club collected more than 200 coats, sweaters and other cold-weather gear during its community coat drive. The club donated the coats to the Desert Manna homeless shelter in Barstow.
The coat drive asked members of the Fort Irwin community to pass on coats they no longer used or needed, and collection sites were set up across post. As temperatures drop during the winter months, the coats will be distributed to those in need at the Desert Manna shelter.
“We always try to help out Desert Manna since they are our closest community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Gonzalez, who organized the coat drive this year.
The Sergeant Audie Murphy Club is one of the most prestigious organizations for senior noncommissioned officers. Here on Fort Irwin, the club is committed to community service, Gonzalez said. The club’s members routinely participate in the honor guard for special events. They also raise money through car washes, bake sales and barbeques to donate to community organizations and projects.
“Personally I enjoy helping other people out, helping the community,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just enjoyment for me. I feel better when I can give back to the less fortunate.”
Gonzalez is currently a candidate for membership in the club, a process that requires NCOs to be nominated and undergo a rigorous selection process. His dedication to events like the coat drive exemplifies what the club looks for in its members, according to 1st Sgt. Rochiqneu Jones, the club’s president.
“He is a very professional and selfless-service NCO who loves to give back to the community and is very active when it comes to helping others, and helping individuals in the club,” she said. “Even though he’s not a member himself, he gives the same dedication as the members that are already there. He’s a very loyal guy.”