Lifeliners serve food and more at Mahaffey Middle School
December 2, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. - For many Americans, Thanksgiving is not only a time to reflect on what they are thankful for, but it's an opportunity to give back to the community. Seven soldiers from the 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), took that opportunity to give back to their community by helping serve the Thanksgiving meal at Mahaffey Middle School Nov. 21, at Fort Campbell, Ky.
The soldiers assisted with serving food and keeping the desserts and fruit stocked on the serving line. They constantly maintained the decorations at each table so that children who ate later in the day encountered the same festive display as the first group of diners. Finally, they just shared their smiles and positive attitudes with everyone in the cafeteria that day.
As children, parents and teachers moved through the lunch line, the first soldier they saw was Pfc. Trevor Arbuckle, a small arms/artillery repairer, with the 584th Support Maintenance Company, 129th CSSB, who greeted them with an infectious grin.
"Well we had the opportunity to come out and help these great cafeteria ladies here at the middle school serve Thanksgiving lunch to these students," he said. "We started serving at 11 and we didn't stop until about 12:30, and it was nonstop, but it was a joy."
He jokingly said it felt like they served 2,000 people, but said that the real number was only 240.
Spc. Autumn Woods, the S-3 plans clerk noncommissioned officer in charge with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 129th CSSB, was the soldier responsible for overseeing the Thanksgiving event. The battalion's leadership entrusted her with taking the lead on the unit's school outreach program. She said the soldiers were happy to have an opportunity to volunteer because it offered an enjoyable change of pace from normal operations.
"It's a win-win on both sides," said Woods. "The soldiers get to go outside the unit and the schools end up getting outside help."
Arbuckle said his leadership selected him because he was responsible and they had confidence he would do a good job representing the unit.
"It's an honor that they selected me because there's a lot of other worthy soldiers out there," said Arbuckle. "I just feel proud."
That sentiment came across on the serving line as he enthusiastically served rolls, turkey and ham. He said that volunteering was a way for him to show his respect for the community, the school and the battalion. He went on to say that he wanted to do anything he can to help the community and show everyone that soldiers are people just like them.
To make an event like this happen takes effort. Woods had to contact the schools to determine what assistance they needed, then work with the companies in the battalion to find the resources needed to help the school, then generate an operation order to task out those resources, and finally coordinate with all parties to ensure the event's success.
When her sergeant major first gave her that responsibility, she felt nervous, but she said she did everything she could not to let the battalion or schools down.
"To me it's a privilege," said Woods. " ... I just stayed focused and positive and just went all in to make sure everything happened."
For her the part that made her feel great was seeing the kids smile and warm up to the soldiers. Though she said it was obvious everyone was having a good time.
"It's just a great experience," she said.
"I enjoyed it, I really did," he said. "I want to thank Mahaffey Middle school for giving us this opportunity to come out and do that. I love any opportunity I can to help kids. I'll do that every day because they're our future leaders."