Soldiers spend free time volunteering
May 22, 2009
FORT GORDON, Ga.--(May 22, 2009) Every week, volunteers from the Intermediate-Level Education class at Fort Gordon's Satellite Campus visit Augusta's Golden Harvest food bank and donate several hours to sorting dry and canned goods. The program started with one Soldier looking for a chance to help out. Soon, he had several of his fellow Soldiers participating.
"Before I transferred to ILE and Gordon, I called ahead looking for volunteer opportunities," said ILE volunteer Maj. Tim Franklin. "I wanted to do something to help the community while I'm here, so I try to squeeze in a couple of hours every week."
Franklin's not alone in considering the time at the food bank "squeezed in hours." Maj. Vinston Porter said the ILE schedule keeps all the students extremely busy, but volunteering can sometimes be a welcome distraction.
"It's a break from all the work and the reading assignments," he said. "But we still learn, even while we're here. We get to work together as a group towards a common cause."
The idea of volunteering at the food bank, quickly caught on with other students, making it a weekly event.
"There are usually at least five of us every week, sometimes more," said Capt. Bret Bellizio, another ILE volunteer. "The more people we get, the better, because it means we can get more done. Four or five people can accomplish in an hour what it takes one or two people to do in an entire day. This means the goods are sorted faster and the food gets to the people who need it faster."
Michael Firman, the executive director of the Golden Harvest food bank says he's grateful for the time the Soldiers put into volunteering. "It's important to have these Soldiers. We're at war against hunger, and to have actual Soldiers here fighting alongside me is incredibly honoring."
For volunteers like Porter, it's not so much honoring as it is humbling.
It reminds me of some of the basic things we take for granted, he said. There are a lot of people who aren't as fortunate, aren't as blessed as we are. Being able to help,even in this small way, counts. It's important to stay engaged with the community. They show us and our Families so much support, we owe it to them to give that support back, especially to those less fortunate."
Firman said the ILE Soldiers continue to show incredible commitment every week.
"These Soldiers are far from home and are still taking responsibility for their temporary community. They're showing up us locals with their dedication and enthusiasm. They are second to none," he said.