Stranded in Montreal, U.S. Navy ship crew lend a helping hand
Crew members of the USS Little Rock spent Friday morning at Welcome Hall Mission in Saint-Henri
We can only guess what the crew members of U.S. Navy USS Little Rock have been doing with their down time for the past few months.
Their ship, trapped by ice in the St. Lawrence River, has been moored near the Old Port since Christmas Eve.
The members of the LCS 109 Warhawgs have been using the stopover to focus on mission training and certification, and the sailors have been able to explore the city outside their working hours.
What could they possibly be getting up to in a city like Montreal? Well, Friday morning, about 24 crew members spent a few hours of their impromptu visit in Saint-Henri, packing grocery bags and sorting fruits, vegetables and clothing donations at the Welcome Hall Mission's market.
"I'm hoping it's inspiring for them," said Nancy Dossous, donor relations advisor at the Welcome Hall Mission.
"One of the sailors mentioned, he saw the [market], he said, 'Wow, you guys do all of this for free? We don't have anything like this in America.'"
The sailors weren't authorized to speak to the media, and for the most part, they respected that order. Some, however, offered a few basic observations.
They like the city. They also think it's cold.
One expressed incredulity at the fact that the temperature was in the minus when they arrived. Remember that December cold snap? So do they, especially since they were on their way to Florida when the ship got stuck.
She has a connection with the navy — her father was served in the U.S. Navy, and she says sailors occupy a "special place" in her heart.
The mission feeds 3,000 people a week, and she said logistics are key to their operation.
"At times to feed that many people, everything that goes into it that distribution, you feel like you need a small army. So we have the navy," she said, smiling.
The ship and its crew are here until at least mid-March.