Fort Hood volunteers make a difference
October 27, 2011
- More than 6,000 volunteers from across Fort Hood
- "So we decided we were going to make a difference for their facility and give back to them."
FORT HOOD, Texas - Fort Hood volunteers helped various nonprofit organizations and Families in need Oct. 21 through Oct. 23 during the largest Make a Difference Day in the Central Texas area.
More than 6,000 volunteers from across Fort Hood, with an additional 2,000 individuals from Killeen not affiliated with the post, completed 93 community service projects.
"Make a Difference Day is where Fort Hood has a consolidated effort to reach out into the community to help out and improve other organizations," Kimberly Parker, Army Volunteer Corps Coordinator, Army Community Service, said. "Every project went well, and we had a lot more people around than I expected. This year was the largest participation Fort Hood has ever had."
Participants helped with everything from repainting buildings and trimming hedges to walking dogs and fixing kennels. The projects were as varied as the volunteers lending a helping hand.
"I like helping out at the humane society," 2nd Lt. Stephen Scott, a platoon leader, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, said. "Animal shelters are always a good place to help out at. I love it, and we (3rd ACR) do whatever we can to help out."
Animals were not the only ones to receive a helping hand during the day as the Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Brigade took time Friday morning to clean windows at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center.
A group of Soldiers assigned to the brigade were armed with ladders, squeegees, paper towels and cleaning fluid in their efforts to make sure the windows of the SFAC were spotless.
The SFAC provides a variety of different services to wounded warriors and their Families, including financial counseling, entitlement and benefit information and other military services and programs. Soldiers said it was a simple task they could undertake that would show their appreciation for the staff at the SFAC.
"They (the SFAC) were chosen by the brigade sergeant major (Command Sgt. Maj. Kyle Crump), because of what they do for our wounded Soldiers and for the brigade," Sgt. 1st Class Chris Switzer, Headquarters Company, WTB, said.
"They're a great organization. So we decided we were going to make a difference for their facility and give back to them. This event is just to let them know that they contribute a lot to the staff and to the Soldiers that are here. It's just to acknowledge to them that we appreciate the support they give us," he added.
The coordinators with ACS worked closely with the city of Killeen to ensure maximum assistance was given to as many organizations and people that would need it.
"We are working directly with Killeen to collect the projects from the nonprofit centers that need help," Parker said. "We combined them to one central list and see if anyone would like to adopt the center."
Units such as 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division have already adopted centers and become partners to building the community.
"Armed Services Young Men's Christian Associations is our battalion partner, and they've been incredibly generous with us over the years," Capt. Sean Castillo, 2-5 Cav. Regt., 1st Cav. Div., said. "Most recently they've supported us during the deployment with providing us with hot dogs and refreshments to the Families. We actually had a back-to-school party that they provided the venue for, here at the pool."
Opportunities such as Make a Difference Day allow units to give back to their partners for the support they have given over the years.
"When the Make a Difference Day came out and they published the list of donors, I told Mr. Travis Knight that we're going to be gunning to help the ASYMCA, because this was our opportunity to give back," Castillo said of Knight, the associate executive director of the ASYMC. "We are very happy to be here supporting our partner."
Knight spoke about the long enduring relationship the ASYMCA and the 2-5 Cav. Regt. have and how that helps build the community.
"They're one of our oldest adopted units," he said. "This is just part of that mutual relationship we have with them. We do a lot for them and they approach us as well about what they can do to help. It shows that they support the community as much as the community supports them."
Unit volunteer work is not limited to one weekend a year, but is open yearlong to anyone who would like to build and enhance his or her community.
"We always have contacts for the agencies who could use the help," Parker said. "We keep this list year round."
Parker suggested that when volunteering, people should look into projects that mirror their own interests.
"Volunteering is a great way to know your community, build and maintain skills and contribute to humanity," Parker said. "When you volunteer, you are investing in your community. Find something you are passionate about and you'll stick with it longer. You'll end up making a real difference in that organization."
Nonprofit organizations are not the only ones to benefit from the volunteers, Parker said.
"The majority of the list is nonprofit organizations, but we also help individuals who need the help," Parker said. "There was an elderly lady who needed help cleaning her house after a fire and another elderly lady living off of social security that couldn't trim her hedges nor afford to pay someone to do it. We have a few projects like that to assist those individuals in the community who need help."
"It's too easy to help out around here," Scott said. "There is a lot of military here, and everyone is quick to help out. Plus, afterward you get that warm fuzzy feeling."