Soldier outreach serves different army
September 6, 2012
FORT SILL, Okla.-- A group of Fort Sill Advanced Individual Training students volunteered as food servers at the Salvation Army Community Services Center in downtown Lawton, Aug. 27.
The nine Soldiers, who are in B Battery, 2nd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery, volunteered as part of the battery's monthly community service project which feeds homeless, indigent and low-income people at the center.
Trish Leach, a night monitor at the center, said the Soldiers are a big help.
"It is a blessing for us because it frees the lone monitor to watch what's going on in the dining area," Leach said. "I could not do my job as effectively without these volunteers."
The Soldiers worked the serving line, carried trays for people who needed help, mingled with the guests and performed clean up after the 45 minutes of serving. The evening meal drew about 50 people.
The Soldiers are in the AIT Air Defense Battle Management System Operator and Air Defense Enhanced Early Warning Operator courses.
Volunteering is nothing new to Pvt. Christopher Rose, 22, who has worked for Habit for Humanity.
"I joined the Army to serve a cause greater than myself, so I wanted to assist those who need help the most," Rose said.
For this meal, the Soldiers served baked chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and dessert to guests ranging from children in strollers with their parents to senior citizens; men and women, alone as well as families.
Pvt. Logan Reynolds, 20, said even though he is an AIT student he has time to volunteer and he wants to help the community.
"I want to help better Lawton," said Reynolds, "as well as better myself."
Capt. Kurt Hildebrandt, B/2-6th ADA commander, said this was the fifth time the battery has volunteered with the Salvation Army.
There never is a shortage of volunteers to assist with the meal, which they work the last Thursday of every month, he said. Volunteering at the center with other Soldiers makes it more comfortable, because many wanted to volunteer, but not individually.
Talking with the guests, Hildebrandt said he always meets three or four people who are veterans, including Vietnam vets.
Volunteer Pvt. Bryan Crump, 20, from El Paso, Texas, said he knows what it is like to be needy and has used humanitarian services like the Salvation Army.
Crump added, "The people that I've met in Lawton are just fabulous, and so any chance I have to give back I will."
Pvt. James Geniesse, 21, originally from Fresno, Calif., said he considers Lawton-Fort Sill his new hometown because this is where he will be stationed after graduation Oct. 12.
"I volunteered like this back in Fresno, and now that I'm here I want to give back to the community where I'm going to live."