By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterFebruary 23, 2017
FORT RUCKER. Ala. -- The community surrounding Fort Rucker isn't shy about its support for Soldiers and families, so one organization on post makes sure to give back as much as possible.
Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club members held their annual Sweetheart Bingo Feb. 14 at Hillcrest Baptist Church in Enterprise, as well as their Fairy Godmother Prom Dress event Feb. 18 at Corvias Military Living as a means to back to the community that serves them, said Tanya Berg, FRCSC club member and Fairy Godmother chair.
"Whether it's through Sweetheart Bingo and supporting our senior citizens, Fairy Godmother and supporting our local high school girls, or the Hollyday Bazaar, where we raise funds for high school children and people who are continuing education, this is our way of supporting the people who support us, and I think that's really important," she said.
The spouses club exists to develop a spirit of community responsibility, according to the club's website, www.fortruckercsc.com, but its actions speak louder than its words.
"Most of our efforts go toward fund raising to give back to the community, but (Sweetheart Bingo) is one event that we do that is our biggest philanthropic event, and it's one event that the local community has come to count on and we almost get more joy out of it than they do," said Jodi Coyle, Sweetheart Bingo chair.
The spouses club hosted 12 senior centers from the surrounding areas in an event that catered to nearly 400 senior citizens, said Coyle.
Throughout the event, participants were able to enjoy breakfast to start before the games began, and once the games began, the prizes started flowing. In between shouts of "Bingo!" door prizes were given out throughout, including kitchen appliances, jewelry, gift cards and more.
"I think for any military installation, it's awesome to see how the local community supports the military itself, and it's awesome as a military organization to be able give back to the local communities in return," said the event chair, adding that up to 40 spouses club members were on hand to help with the event.
That level of support doesn't go unnoticed.
"I just think this is a great event and I have a great time while we're here," said Josephine Darge, of Pine Level. "It's a nice change from a normal day, and who doesn't love a good game of Bingo?"
The FRCSC exists to support people of all ages in the surrounding community, and they did just that with their Fairy Godmother Prom Dress Event, which provided prom dresses to high school girls from area high schools from as far as past Troy to the Florida and Georgia borders, said Berg.
"We worked with high schools in the area and we had more than 50 girls scheduled to come in," she said. "They get to come in, find a dress they like, try it on, and they get to keep a dress and take home an accessory with them, so they'll walk out of here with a new dress and either some shoes or jewelry, and a lot of self-confidence."
Building that self-confidence is something Jennifer Heard, FRCSC Fairy Godmother co-chair, said is a huge part of why she wanted to volunteer her time to help.
"I was a volunteer last year and I got to witness this first hand by being a personal shopper with the girls," she said. "One thing that stuck out to me was some of the self-esteem issues of some of the girls.
"Some of them were really down on themselves and didn't have much encouragement, and that was something we got to do -- build their self-esteem," she continued. "We encouraged them through finding these dresses and helped them have a little bit more confidence about how they looked. Once they tried on the dresses, you could just see the change in the faces and attitudes."
The dresses provided are all donated by military spouses and local businesses, and the collection now houses more than 600 dresses. Throughout the year, when the dresses aren't needed for the prom dress event, the spouses club acts as a lending closet for military spouses who can borrow dresses for military balls and other formal occasions, costing them only the price of cleaning after they're done with the dress, according to Berg.
Regardless of what the dresses are used for, they are meant to serve a purpose and that purpose is to give back.
"The whole point of the Fort Rucker Community Spouses Club is to support the community that supports us and, as a military spouse, it's nice to give back," she said.