By Mr. Derek Gean (Leonard Wood)April 13, 2017
More than 60 Marines from the Fort Leonard Wood U.S. Marine Corps Detachment collectively contributed hundreds of man hours to an area church camp in the span of one morning March 31.
The community outreach, led by Navy Chaplain (Lt.) Jeremy Bennett, gave Marines in holding the opportunity to get off the installation and serve their country, Bennett said. The morning was spent cleaning, painting, power washing and helping volunteers prepare the Laclede Baptist Camp in Stoutland for the 2017 camp season.
According to Steven Strauch, Laclede Baptist Association director of missions, who oversees the camp, the impact of the Marines' service resulted in the completion of work that would have taken the association's regular volunteers weeks to complete.
"The service provided was a huge blessing in the number of hours saved for our volunteer team," Strauch said. He said they were also able to complete projects such as brush clean-up, door installation and even the installation of an industrial sink.
"The people power and manpower you are bringing us is tremendous," Strauch told the Marines the morning of the event.
Bennett said he was looking for a place for Fort Leonard Wood's Marines to make an impact, and the camp workers needed the assistance.
"They needed some help and we are out here to give them a hand," Bennett said.
"We are building relations with the local community," Bennett said.
Bennett said the volunteer service was not a requirement for the Marines, but most wanted the chance to serve while they were waiting to begin training.
"We want them to feel productive," Bennett said. "It's a chance to get off post, maybe relax and get some work done for the community. It's a good way of keeping morale up."
Marine Pfc. Dominic Davis, one of the volunteers, said despite rain and cool temperatures, he was glad to interact with people outside the installation.
"It's good to build relations with community members, especially since some of them probably haven't interacted with the military," Davis said.