Approximately 400 volunteers, some shown here picking up roadside trash, gathered to help beautify the areas surrounding Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 7. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas -- Rather than sleep in on a Saturday morning, approximately 400 volunteers elected to do something good for the community, as they gathered at the Marvin Leath Visitor Center here for an area beautification project, Nov. 7.

“We want to beautify the area and make it nice for people coming in and out of Fort Hood, but beyond that, we really want people to connect, talk and visit and get to know each other,” Kelly Brown, president of Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, explained.

Fort Hood partnered with the cities of Killeen and Copperas Cove, as the CTFH Chapter of AUSA, who spearheaded the event as part of their new mentorship program. The program is meant to link Soldiers and spouses with members of the community. Brown said the idea for the program came about after receiving several requests from Soldiers to link them with people who could mentor them about specific things.

Soldiers, family members and community members picked up litter along the entrances and exits off Highway 190 leading to the Bernie Beck Main Gate, as well as the areas that touch Fort Hood along Rancier Avenue and Fort Hood Street in Killeen, outside the Frank W. Mayborn Gate.

Cadets from the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at Texas A&M University – Central Texas and University of Mary Hardin-Baylor volunteered for the beautification project and took the time to mentor to 21 Junior ROTC cadets from Shoemaker High School, who also volunteered their Saturday.

Command Sgt. Maj. Cliff Burgoyne Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood command sergeant major, said volunteering is something a lot of Soldiers enjoy doing because it teaches standards and discipline.

“To be able to volunteer and do something good for your community does a lot for everybody,” Burgoyne added. “It sets a good example.”

Staff Sgt. Edward Wright, III Corps Noncommissioned Officer Academy instructor, said that he enjoys volunteering because it helps the entire community, not just the installation. The Rahway, New Jersey native said helping Fort Hood is something everyone should strive to do because it is their home.

Pfc. Carla Carreno and Spc. Nathan Forrest clear weeds growing on the roadway leading out of the main gate at Fort Hood, Texas, Nov. 7. The pair were among approximately 400 Soldiers, family members and members of surrounding communities to come together for a beautification project. (Photo Credit: Brandy Cruz, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“You have to realize that you’re a Soldier 24/7 and we live off of Army Values – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage – volunteering encompasses all of that on your own,” Wright said. “If you’re taking your free time to do stuff, that shows a lot about your character.”