U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Huntsinger, noncommissioned officer in charge, G3, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, USASMDC command sergeant major, collect items for a local homeless shelter during a donation drive at the command’s Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, headquarters, Dec. 18, 2020. The drive, hosted by USASMDC noncommissioned officers, collected more than 1,500 pounds of supplies to donate to the shelter. (U.S. Army photo by Mikayla Mast)
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Huntsinger, noncommissioned officer in charge, G3, left, and Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, USASMDC command sergeant major, collect items for a local homeless shelter during a donation drive at the command’s Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, headquarters, Dec. 18, 2020. The drive, hosted by USASMDC noncommissioned officers, collected more than 1,500 pounds of supplies to donate to the shelter. (U.S. Army photo by Mikayla Mast) (Photo Credit: Mikayla Mast) VIEW ORIGINAL
Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, unloads bags from a donator's vehicle during a donation drive hosted by USASMDC noncommissioned officers at the command’s Redstone Arsenal headquarters, Dec. 18, 2020. The command collected 1,500 pounds of supplies for a local homeless shelter, including winter clothing, diapers, sheets and blankets, and household appliances. (U.S. Army Photo by Mikayla Mast)
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Command Sgt. Maj. Finis Dodson, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, unloads bags from a donator's vehicle during a donation drive hosted by USASMDC noncommissioned officers at the command’s Redstone Arsenal headquarters, Dec. 18, 2020. The command collected 1,500 pounds of supplies for a local homeless shelter, including winter clothing, diapers, sheets and blankets, and household appliances. (U.S. Army Photo by Mikayla Mast) (Photo Credit: Mikayla Mast) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command noncommissioned officers organized a donation drive for a local homeless shelter, Dec. 19, at USASMDC’s Redstone Arsenal headquarters.

Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson, USASMDC command sergeant major, said it is important to give back to the community, especially this year when the pandemic has caused so much financial hardship for individuals and families.

“This has been a really difficult year for so many people,” Dodson said. “We need to make sure we’re taking care of the communities we’re living in, especially around the holiday season.”

In previous years, USASMDC hosted back-to-school supply drives for a local elementary school, but with this year’s shift to online learning, the school did not need assistance collecting school items.

Sgt. 1st Class Trenton Huntsinger, noncommissioned officer in charge, USASMDC G-3, said the command’s NCO team still wanted to give back to their community, so they researched ways they could help.

“This year has been full of hardship and uncertainty for a lot of people,” Huntsinger said. “When we found this homeless shelter, it seemed like a perfect way to help those in need, especially those most impacted by the pandemic.”

The NCO team originally planned to help by putting in service hours at the shelter.

“Though we wanted to be there in person, in our current environment we have to be careful with any potential COVID exposure to our personnel,” Huntsinger said. “Our readiness requires that our forces remain safe and healthy, which means avoiding any unnecessary exposure risks.”

With COVID precautions in mind, the NCO team decided to host a donation drive.

“We were originally thinking about a food drive, but the shelter said what they really needed were clothing, sheets, blankets and toiletries,” Huntsinger said.

The NCOs quickly spread the word throughout the command, and were quickly overwhelmed with 1,500 pounds of donated supplies for the homeless shelter. Dodson said the team required four carloads to transport all the items.

“We had an excellent turnout for the drive,” Dodson said. “The success of the drive really exceeded my expectations. I’m beyond impressed with our command’s willingness to step up and help our community in this time of need.”

Though the drive was organized and led by the NCO team, Dodson said it was only possible with the contributions from the entire USASMDC Redstone Arsenal workforce, including both Soldiers and civilians.

Huntsinger said they collected winter clothing, diapers, sheets and blankets, and small household appliances, among others.

“It really speaks volumes about how much our team cares,” Huntsinger said. “One person drove out, only to realize they forgot their donations. They drove 30 minutes home to get their donations and back again.”

Dodson said while he is thrilled with the success of the drive, he is not surprised - this is what NCOs do.

“NCOs are the first line of leadership who interact with and take care of our Soldiers,” Dodson said. “Outside of work they do the same things and take care of the people in our communities.”