By Army Staff Sgt. John PortelaNovember 16, 2018
FORT SHAFTER, HI - Soldiers of the 8th Theater Sustainment Command volunteered their skills and services to show their support in the local community at the Gustav H. Webling Elementary School in Halawa, Hawaii, Nov. 14.
Lead by Capt. Weston Williams, 8th Special Troops Battalion, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, Battalion S1 Officer in Charge, the volunteer program gives Soldiers of the 8th TSC the opportunity to volunteer their time within the surrounding communities. The first volunteer opportunity was held at Gustav H. Webling Elementary School. Williams and four additional Soldiers from the 8th TSC arrived at the school early Wednesday morning. Their mission? To conduct morning physical education sessions with a handful of students from various classes and grades.
"It's a great opportunity for us as military to reach back out to our community because the community sees us out there in uniform," said Williams. "When the children see Soldiers, they can associate us with someone who's out here in the community who wants to participate and encourage them. Doing games and activities and supporting them is a really good way to build a strong relationship with the Army and to our surrounding communities."
As the children began taking their places on the outdoor basketball court for their PE session, Williams and the others introduced themselves to the students, quickly ran them through warm-up drills, and gave them a standardized safety brief. As the students stood reluctantly waiting for what was next, their demeanor changed in seconds when they heard they were about to play 'Sharks and Trees.'
"I was happy because we haven't done this since third," said Brennen Teeter, a fifth grader at the school. "I think it helped the students get more exercise."
For a few soldiers who volunteered, they had a special connection with the children and why this opportunity was fitting for them.
"I just met a little girl that was a foster child and I was one too, so it was weird because how did that come up?" said Pfc. Harmoni Norris, 8th TSC, S1 Leave and Passes Clerk. "Back at home I use to volunteer with the kids all the time, with schools, on baseball fields, just doing anything with the kids. And I raised kids since I was a kid so, this is easy to me. I love it."
"I used to volunteer for my brother and sister's school; I'm the oldest and I just love working with kids. And this is actually going to be my second job when I get out of the Army," said Pfc. Aamiya Qasem, 8th TSC, cable systems installer-maintainer. "I think seeing us out here makes the kids motivated and very energized because military families are very supportive of each other."
As the volunteers and the children continued to chase each other across the basketball court, it was apparent to see that this volunteer opportunity was a success for both parties involved.
"I think they had a blast; I think they really enjoyed it," said Pvt. Kenneth Eckerson, HHC 8th STB, paralegal specialist. "They seemed to really get into it once they became the sharks and we were kind of running around with them, but I think they really loved it; I think it was a great exercise." When asked if he would volunteer again Eckerson replied, "Absolutely. I'm enjoying myself and having a great time. It's good to get out and break the monotony of what we do at work, so it's very nice to be out here."
At the end of the session, the children were very eager to talk with the Soldiers for a few minutes which comes to show that volunteering does have an impact, especially on youth.
There are many more volunteer opportunities available like tutoring, a walkathon, evacuation drills, Jump Rope for Heart and many more fun activities. Anyone who would like to volunteer at the next Gustav H. Webling Elementary School event can contact Capt. Weston Williams at email@example.com.