Cpl. Derno McCary of the 2-312th Regiment, 174th Infantry Brigade was recently photographed handing out pizza to homeless people. The photo became a big hit on social media.
The photo, taken by Sgt. Richard Saenz received a good deal of positive comments and attention highlighting the efforts by the two to use some of their off-duty time to give back to the community.
“I was there when Sergeant Saenz came up with the idea,” said McCary. “I told him I would definitely go with him. The reception that we got was outstanding, but I was just doing my part … It felt good.”
Saenz grew up in Camden and worked previously as a state employee. While working at that job, he had the opportunity to see the types of hardships faced by the homeless. Witnessing a friend’s efforts to help the needy inspired Saenz to find ways to help. He organized the pizza delivery using donations as well as support from his unit.
“People would tell me that they hadn’t had pizza in years,” said Saenz.
Saenz and another soldier, Randall Nieves, made an additional nighttime food delivery a few nights later. They handed out fruit and loaves of bread.
“What (a soldier) does reflects greatly on the Army, so when Sergeant Saenz came up with this idea, our whole team supported him,” said Nieves.
Saenz and his team hope to keep up the good works. Of the recognition he is receiving Saenz says, “ I didn’t want any recognition … I just wanted to pay it forward.”