Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, take a break from cleaning up to pose for a picture with staff members from the Rescue Mission in Syracuse on Dec. 10. The Soldiers helped prepare meals and serve food to the homeless and less fortunate members of the Syracuse community.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, volunteered Dec. 10 to help the less fortunate in Syracuse, N.Y.

The Soldiers traded their weapons in for paint brushes and their body armor for aprons for the day at the Rescue Mission in Syracuse. The Rescue Mission helps the homeless or needy from the Syracuse area. The Golden Dragon Soldiers painted the walls in the donation drop-off area and served lunch to the less fortunate.

Lisa DeAngelo, director of volunteer services for the Rescue Mission, said the organization greatly appreciates the Soldiers' help.

"We serve around 600 people a day here, seven days a week," DeAngelo said. "The fact that the Soldiers spent time away from their Families during the holidays to volunteer is huge for us, and it speaks a lot to the character of the Soldiers."

This is the second year the Golden Dragons have volunteered at the Rescue Mission. The event was coordinated by Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Ashmead, 2-14 Infantry senior enlisted adviser.
"This was a great opportunity for the Syracuse community to see Fort Drum Soldiers in a positive light," Ashmead said. "We have a very large population of Soldiers who are altruistic by nature; they come from Families that volunteer and do charity work in their hometown."

After eating lunch, cleaning up the area and preparing for the next meal, the Soldiers departed and headed to the next location, the Samaritan Center in Syracuse. Soldiers prepared food, washed dishes and served food. When the meal was complete, the Golden Dragons stayed and lent a hand cleaning up the area.

"It felt great to give back to the homeless and less fortunate members of Syracuse and help them recognize we're not always just on Fort Drum," said Pvt. Matthew Branch, an infantryman from B Company, 2-14 Infantry.

Chantelle Mendonsa, a volunteer at the Samaritan Center, is also a student at Syracuse University. Mendonsa is studying about nonprofit organizations, and she said she learns a lot from volunteering.

"I feel like it can be real easy to get caught up in your own life and forget there are people who could really use your help," Mendonsa said. "I think it's really amazing that the Soldiers who already provide us a service are here volunteering and helping out even more than they already do."

"This is not a special thing for us Golden Dragons; it's really just business as usual," Ashmead said. "Whenever we have the time away from training and preparing for combat, we give our Soldiers the opportunity to volunteer."

After the new year, the Golden Dragons will look for an opportunity to volunteer in Watertown right outside of Fort Drum's gates, whether it be with a food pantry or another organization that helps less fortunate members of the community.

Page last updated Wed December 21st, 2011 at 00:00