ABERDEEN, Maryland - When Sgt. 1st Class Robert Anderson learned that Roye-Williams Elementary School needed volunteers for a fitness event, he jumped at the chance.
Anderson, 36, an explosive ordnance disposal noncommissioned officer from Ironwood, Michigan, is among a group of Soldiers at Aberdeen Proving Ground who volunteer in the local community. At Roye-Williams, where Anderson's daughter Isabella, 9, attends third grade, he showed children proper jumping jacks, pushups and other cardiovascular enhancing exercises.
"This is stuff we learned in our careers about being healthy, said Anderson, an operations NCO with from the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives Command. "We have to support our kids being active and it's important to give back to the community."
Dozens of children, parents and teachers took part in the April 1 event, dubbed "Family Fun and Fitness Night." First was Zumba, then jump rope, yoga and other activities. Standing out, in their drab-green camouflage uniforms, were Anderson and Sgt. 1st Class Edward Swiger, whose daughter Olivia, 11, is a Roye Williams fifth grader.
The youth fitness event coincides with two key awareness events in April, Month of the Military Child and National Volunteer Month. Swiger, 44, of Doylestown, Ohio, first volunteered while at Fort Drum, New York, mentoring special needs children.
"Ever since then I've been extremely passionate about volunteering," Swiger said. "This also makes us stand out in the community, people see us, see the uniform and know we are here to help."
Community relations is a top priority for Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, commander of U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command and APG's senior officer, and Col. James E. Davis, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Aberdeen Proving Ground. As first sergeant for 20th' CBRNE's headquarters and headquarters company, Swiger works with garrison enlisted leaders to make sure APG Soldiers support community events.
Soldiers from the 20th CBRNE also read to children in local school and take part in commemorative events like Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Swiger said. This April, 20th CBRNE Soldiers will also be at Edgewood Middle School's safety and security event. While in combat zones overseas, Swiger often worked took part in humanitarian efforts - sort of like volunteering to help local communities while deployed, he said.
"Now, I have a chances to do something for our own kids," said Swiger, a father of five who's spent 22 years in uniform. "And every chance I get to spend with one of my kids, I cherish it."
Headquartered at APG South (Edgewood), 20th CBRNE has units on 19 posts in 16 states. The unit's Soldiers combat chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive threats worldwide. The unit's EOD Soldiers often work with heavy gear during lengthy field operations that require them to have both strength and stamina.
"It's nice to Soldiers here to explain what they do and how fit they have to be," said Sarah Baker, a first grade teacher Roye Williams. "We wanted to get the kids moving, promote a healthy lifestyle and show them the different ways they can exercise.
Following the success of the first fitness night, Roye-Williams will plan more, Baker said.
"We have a lots of military families and we're so close to APG," Baker said. "We're glad they are a part of it."