By Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)October 29, 2015
Saturday was a day of service for members of the Fort Leonard Wood community as more than 25 different organizations and thousands of people gathered to "Make a Difference."
Make a Difference Day is a national day of community service that takes place annually on the fourth Saturday of October. Millions of people worldwide unite to improve their communities. The installation and surrounding communities hosted a flurry of activity, as people worked to rake leaves, spread mulch, clean schools and more.
"I appreciated everyone of you coming out to make this a special event," said Rhonda Hutsell, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator and event organizer at the opening ceremony. "This is a national day of helping others, caring for others and giving of yourself."
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so the Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program and the Army Volunteer Program started the day by hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness 5k Fun Run/Walk, sponsored by the 14th Military Police Brigade.
Col. Andy Herbst, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander, encouraged the event participants to be aware of the help available to domestic violence victims.
"Domestic violence does happen even here on Fort Leonard Wood," Herbst said. "If you have a friend who has experienced domestic violence there are so many places to go." He said help is available from ACS and from at least 15 chaplains on the installation. "Help is not very far away," Herbst said.
Before leading the race, he thanked the participants for taking part in Make a Difference Day events.
"Thanks for volunteering on the base," Herbst said. "As you know the base gives a lot to all of us, and it's good that once a year we give a little bit back."
Several participants took part in helping at community projects following the race, while many started working first thing. Some of the project locations included the post cemetery, General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, the Waynesville Animal Shelter, the Exchange and Soldier Memorial Chapel, among many other public areas.
Second Lt. Andrew Rotermund, 554th Engineer Battalion, was one of the Soldiers volunteering at Soldier Memorial Chapel. Rotermund said he was excited to help "make the post look gorgeous."
"(Make a Difference Day) is a great program," he said.
Marine Pvt. 1st Class Octavio Solorio assisted Rotermund in cleaning up the chapel grounds. Solorio said he was glad he could help out.
"We want to clean the place up and make sure it looks all new," he said.
Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Favory, 463rd Military Police Company, spent the morning spreading mulch and working to help beautify areas along Missouri Avenue. As a Soldier benefiting from the support of the community, he said he believes he has a responsibility to "give back."
"This is a unique installation in terms of (Training Doctrine Command) and (U.S. Army Forces Command), but it is one that does many notable things to take care of the Soldiers. When given the opportunity to give back to the community that takes care of you, it only feels right to take the time and give of yourself," he said.
Following a morning of volunteer work, participants gathered at noon at ACS, for a lunch hosted by the USO.