Surprise Squad helps Chicopee JROTC program support local soup kitchen

Major Kyle Bate and Master Sergeant Peter Rollend run the JROTC program at Chicopee High.
Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 3:29 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Western Mass News Surprise Squad, sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Hyundai Dealers, is back for another surprise. This month, we visited Chicopee High School to pay a visit to the JROTC program.

Major Kyle Bate and Master Sergeant Peter Rollend run the JROTC program at Chicopee High.

“We are here to develop kids and develop citizens of character to serve the community and the nation. That’s what we are here for,” Rollend noted.

It’s been a tough year with pandemic restrictions cancelling most of their planned events, but the group hosted a food drive for Lorraine’s Kitchen and planned a field day at school with the Chicopee police and fire departments.

“Very happy to be getting back to doing what we do best, which is cadets learning about leadership and then actually putting it to work,” Bate explained.

We wanted to help out after a tough year, so we crashed their field day. While we distracted the Rollend and Bate inside, the Western Massachusetts Hyundai Dealers were outside brining the check, setting up the surprise, and of course, having fun at field day.

“Holy smokes…I’m a little speechless, I don’t know what to say…This event wasn’t put together by us. All those guys and gals there the ones that made it happen…I’m a little shocked, wasn’t expecting this. Thank you so much,” Bate said.

The Hyundai Dealers of Western Massachusetts greeted Bate and congratulated him for his efforts in leading the program.

“Thank you for everything you’ve done. This is $1,000 on behalf of the Hyundai Dealers of Western Mass. for your initiative for the food bank,” said Carla Cosenzi, co-owner of Tommy Car Auto Group and Country Hyundai.

Bate added, “Wow, awesome, thanks. Thank you so much. Our food drive, by the way, our cadets led that.”

Later, the Hyundai dealers presented him with the check.

“It’s really exciting to be able to give back and recognize those that serve so selflessly and in this case, the money that we donated from the Western Mass. Hyundai Dealers to the Lorraine Soup Kitchen, which is really in need,” said Gary Rome, owner of Gary Rome Hyundai.

Bate noted, “The fact that we can double this...I think Lorraine’s is going to be extremely happy with that and hopefully, it will help get them back on their feet.”

The surprise continued with ice cream. We couldn’t forget about all the kids in the program. An ice cream truck rolled up with free ice cream for everyone and the Hyundai dealers handed out tickets and ice cream to the students.

“It was fantastic…Great to give back to the kids that are doing some great work in the community,” said Brian Houser with Balise Hyundai.

Cosenzi added, “This shows a community coming together. Young people getting involved at a high school level is so great and what the ROTC is instilling in the community and giving back and teaching young people to do is really important…This is probably one of the biggest Surprise Squads we’ve ever done.”

A few days later, the JROTC program presented their donation to Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen.