By Megan GarciaMay 11, 2018
FORT BENNING, Ga. (May 11, 2018) - "A simple smile and a kind gesture go a long way." This is a mantra 2nd Lt. Aireal Williams lives by.
Williams serves as the assistant personnel officer for the 316th Cavalry Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, and has volunteered at Hope Harbour, a domestic violence shelter in Columbus, Georgia, for the past three years.
With the upcoming Mother's Day holiday approaching, Williams organized "The CAV Cares," a clothing drive for the shelter's residents, which culminated May 10. The monthlong drive included coordination with family readiness groups and chaplains in the brigade's subordinate units. Together, approximately 500 individual pieces of clothing were collected.
"I just really wanted to do something for the mothers there," Williams said. "I know they are not able to celebrate Mother's Day like other mothers may be able to, so I thought why not bring this to them."
Williams and Sgt. Shynice Zellars, a human resource specialist in the brigade's personnel office, delivered the clothes to the shelter during the shelter's Mother's Day Dinner.
Zellars and Williams helped to sort the clothes and lay them out for the residents prior to the dinner.
Although the dinner is an annual event for the shelter, adding the clothing drive to the event was completely Williams' idea.
"She reached out to me and did all of the coordination between the shelter and Fort Benning," said Marie Clyatt, the shelter's resource associate and volunteer coordinator. "She is very passionate."
Clyatt added partnerships with the community and Fort Benning is a morale booster for the residents, especially around the Mother's Day holiday.
"Despite their circumstances, they are still mothers," Clyatt said. "When volunteers come into the shelter, it reminds the women they are not alone."
Williams is glad to bridge that gap and said volunteering not only provides motivation for the recipient of the good deed, but for the volunteer as well. She encourages anyone to get involved, specifically the Soldiers of Fort Benning.
"It keeps us connected to the community, because sometimes we can get so wrapped up in our military lives," Williams said. "These events remind us there are other things going on, and I think it's important to show others that they are not alone and that we are here to take care of them."
To see more photos from the event, visit www.fortbenningphotos.com/The-CAV-Cares-Clothing-Drive.