Fort Campbell Soldiers, retirees lend hand to support community
By Emily LaForme, Fort Campbell CourierApril 23, 2020
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Soldiers and retirees are choosing to give back to the community by volunteering at the Fort Campbell Child Nutrition Program food distribution sites, helping to package and hand out meals while following COVID-19 safety protocols.To support Army Families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fort Campbell Child Nutrition Program is offering free grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals for children up to the age of 18 for as long as school closures continue on post.Soldiers with the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program and even retirees have joined the volunteer force to help keep distribution sites running.“It’s always good to give back to the community, for me at least it makes me feel good,” said Spc. Matthew Dove, vice president of the Fort Campbell BOSS program. “I recommend Soldiers volunteer. A lot of times they are just sitting at home playing video games, when they can come out and meet amazing people and give a few hours of their day for a good cause. It builds character and it makes everyone feel good.”The Soldiers and retirees who volunteered were grateful for the opportunity to help an important cause on post.“I’ve been a part of BOSS for a year, I like to volunteer and remain active in the community,” said Sgt. Tyrus Mantroy, 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “I like to give back. I feel like since I’m free during this time, I need to help lend a hand during this crisis. If I can help, I’ll always try to.”Volunteering is a way for Mantroy to give back to his community while looking out for Army Families. He also invites other Soldiers to volunteer.“These are the children of your battle buddies, you need to be thinking about them and helping to take care of them,” Mantroy said. “The community here has always supported the Soldiers and this is my way of thanking them for always supporting us.”After finding himself with more free time, retired 1st Sgt. Mike Taylor has been volunteering almost daily at the distribution sites.“I help package and I help distribute food the Families,” Taylor said. “I was surprised to see the amount of manhours it takes to put the program together. When I first heard about the program, I thought it was such a great thing. Seeing behind the scenes and what is involved to keep it going, I’ve found myself with an even greater appreciation for what the schools are doing for the community.”There is so much to do, that the staff could not accomplish the large task without the help of volunteers, he said.“When my daughter finishes school in a few weeks, she’ll be joining me to help as well,” Taylor said. “It’s good for people to realize how much our community supports us and this is a chance to help support our community in return. During this time, get out, help your neighbors and get involved if you can.”Children do not have to be students at Department of Defense Education Activity-Fort Campbell schools to participate. Curbside pick-ups are 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Barkley Elementary School in the car-rider zone, 177 Gorgas Ave.; and at the Barsanti Elementary School bus loading zone, 7409 McAuliffe Way.The community has responded to the need for help with an outpouring of volunteers who are helping package and distribute the meals, but more are needed, said Elaine Dawkins, School Meals Program food service director. To volunteer you must be ready to work and physically healthy. For more information, email Dawkins at email@example.com.