COLUMBUS, Ga. (Sept. 28, 2018) - Soldiers and civilians from Easy Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the Fort Benning Directorate of Emergency Services, rucked approximately 10 miles from post to deliver donation items to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of West Georgia in Columbus, Georgia, Sept. 21.

The company, who started the donation drive in June, collected more than 250 items, from canned goods to toiletries to household cleaning items.

The Ronald McDonald House provides families with a place to stay and resources when they have a seriously ill or injured child who is being treated at a nearby hospital.

Capt. Kevin Aabel, the Easy Company company commander, learned of the charity in May when his son was a patient in the neonatal intensive care unit at the Piedmont Columbus Regional Hospital. Although he did not stay in the Ronald McDonald House during this time, he said he was impressed by the services they provided and wanted to help out.

Aabel added two other drill sergeants in his company also had children who stayed in the NICU, and when he was thinking of ways to get his company more involved in the community, the Ronald McDonald House came up several times.

"We as a company, and we as a battalion and brigade have been looking for more ways to reach out into the community," said Aabel. "We're already helping out with local school systems with the Partners in Education program, and we look to basically get out more into the community, integrate and show them Soldiers are more than what we do on Sand Hill. Hopefully we can make connections with kids and families, and continue to build those positive relationships within the community."

"We are just so thrilled and just so excited this group from Fort Benning came and walked with their rucks full of supplies for our families here at the Ronald McDonald House," said Renee Sturkie, executive director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of West Georgia. "We're very grateful. It was a very generous and very thoughtful thing that they did."

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