By Gabriel Morse, USARECJanuary 28, 2014
GREAT LAKES, Mich., (Jan. 28, 2014) -- It's no secret that the Army's recruiting mission takes hard work and dedication. It is also no secret that in any endeavor in life, especially in recruiting, the amount of dedication devoted to the effort most often makes the difference between ultimate success and failure.
When we think of hard work or dedication, we often think of large, impressive efforts; good marketing, a decent budget, and of course - quite a few man-hours from as many recruiters as possible.
Small efforts bring small results, right? But when viewed through the prism of taking care of people, sometimes small things take on new significance. A significance that Great Lakes Battalion education services specialist (ESS) Sara Horace recognized immediately as soon as she heard that Claude Townsend, a heavy equipment and technology instructor at Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southwest in Wixom, Mich., and his students had taken the time to collect 14 pounds tabs from aluminum cans to assist a Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) fundraising effort for military families.
Townsend, who attended last year's Great Lakes Battalion educator tour and workshop at Fort Sill, Okla., gained a whole new perspective on the Army. During the tour, he learned not only what the Army was doing for the nation, but was struck with the idea of how he could make a difference for the Army.
During the MWR briefing, he noticed that a container to collect soda pop bottle tabs intended to raise funds for family programs was almost empty. Townsend, who once thought of joining the Army and who likes to work with big things, looked in that small, almost empty box and saw not only a need to give something back to those who serve, but a challenge. Right then and there he decided that his students could do something to help, do it well and do it better.
"Our heavy equipment class motto is, 'If you're going to do something, do it big'", Townsend explained.
He presented the idea to his Heavy Equipment and Trucking Technology students in fall 2012 and challenged them to not only see someone else's need but to get extra credit for collecting bottle tabs. Small donations came in throughout the year from the students. When Townsend combined all the small lunch baggies of bottle tabs, he was shocked to find out he could send 14 pounds of bottle tabs to Ft. Sill's MWR.
Through this project Townsend not only learned what his students were capable of doing on behalf of others, but several other valuable lessons as well.
Townsend said his students learned that small things really do matter and for him it will be a really good story he can tell other teachers at Oakland Schools about how he helped the Army. And recruiters working in the Oakland School system now have an advocate who's willing to affect others on its behalf.
According to Horace, it's a reminder that building relationships with people in the community and showing them who the Army is and what the Army does can make a difference. And sometimes that relationship and that difference is built one bottle tab at a time.