By Mr. Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)October 27, 2016
If you think the installation looks a little sharper this week, your eyes are not playing tricks on you.
More than 30 Fort Leonard Wood-connected organizations took part in dozens of volunteer service projects around the installation and in surrounding communities as part of Make a Difference Day Saturday.
MADD is a national day of community service. Coordinated by the Army Volunteer Corps, Fort Leonard Wood has taken part in the initiative for more than a decade.
"Volunteering is something you give from your heart, and every time you give you can't help but receive something special back," said Rhonda Hutsell, Army Volunteer Corp and MADD coordinator.
Hutsell said MADD projects included mulching around the installation, cleaning, painting and even a food drive. The volunteers worked at area schools, animal shelters, cemeteries, parks and more.
Pvt. Kelsey Lee, a Soldier in training with 787th Military Police Battalion, joined members of her unit to cleanup around Piney Valley Golf Course.
"We want to make this place better and help the Army," Lee said. Volunteering also gave her and her fellow-Soldiers the opportunity to take a break from training.
"This is actually fun," Lee said. "We are getting to see everything get cleaner and see everyone laughing."
Everyone had their reasons for serving. For one Soldier, the satisfaction was in giving back to one of his children's previous schools -- Thayer Elementary.
"My kids attended here," said Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Swickard, Company B, 35th Engineer Battalion.
"They needed help cleaning up the playground so we thought we would come out here and give back to the school," he said.
It wasn't just Soldiers volunteering. Various community organizations took part, including members of the Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
"We are volunteering because we are on an Army installation, and its our way of giving back…helping keep it nice," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jason Ahumada, whose fellow Airmen mulched trees along Nebraska Avenue.
Following the service projects, volunteers met at Army Community Service for closing ceremonies and lunch provided by the St. Louis Mobile USO.
Command Sgt. Maj. Tyson Goolsby, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood command sergeant major, thanked all the day's participants.
"It (all) goes back to Selfless Service -- one of our seven Army Values," Goolsby said. "Everything we have done today wasn't for ourselves. It was to better the installation or to better the community," he said.
Kathy Aydt, USAG FLW deputy commander agreed.
"You guys were out there making it happen today, and we really appreciate that. We are really proud of that."