American Soldiers volunteer at German animal shelter
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Thomas Snowden interacts with one of the inhabitants of the Bad Windsheim Hundhaus on Saturday. Soldiers and players on the Black N' Blue rugby team volunteered their time to assist in the spreading of new mulch for the shelter grounds. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jon Hankey) (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Jonathan Hankey) VIEW ORIGINAL
American Soldiers volunteer at German animal shelter
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – U.S. Soldiers who play on the Black N' Blue rugby team pose for photo with volunteers at the Bad Windsheim Hundhaus on Saturday. The German and American volunteers joined together to spread new mulch throughout the compound. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jon Hankey) (Photo Credit: Capt. Taylor Criswell) VIEW ORIGINAL
American Soldiers volunteer at German animal shelter
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Lt. Thomas Snowden interacts with one of the inhabitants of the Bad Windsheim Hundhaus on Saturday. Soldiers and players on the Black N' Blue rugby team volunteered their time to assist in the spreading of new mulch for the shelter grounds. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jon Hankey) (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Jonathan Hankey) VIEW ORIGINAL
American Soldiers volunteer at German animal shelter
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Air Cavalry Troopers work with Hundehaus volunteers to move and spread over 25 cubic meters of mulch Saturday. German and American volunteers spent around three hours shoveling, barrowing and spreading over 20,000 lbs. of wood chips to improve the dogs’ temporary home. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jon Hankey) (Photo Credit: Capt. Taylor Criswell) VIEW ORIGINAL
American Soldiers volunteer at German animal shelter
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – 1st Air Cavalry Troopers work with Hundehaus volunteers to move and spread over 25 cubic meters of mulch Saturday. The German and American volunteers spent around three hours shoveling, barrowing and spreading over 20,000 lbs. of wood chips to improve the dogs’ temporary home. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Jon Hankey) (Photo Credit: 1st Lt. Jonathan Hankey) VIEW ORIGINAL

Story by. Capt. Taylor Criswell

BAD WINDSHEIM, Germany— 1st Air Cavalry Troopers work with Hundehaus volunteers to move and spread over 25 cubic meters of mulch Saturday.

Building positive community ties increases trust between the Army and the public, at home and abroad. Volunteer opportunities are excellent ways for Soldiers to engage with communities and organizations to create meaningful partnerships and friendships.

“This was the first time in the 30 years of the shelter’s existence that we've had volunteers from Storck Barracks,” said Patrick Hanlon, volunteer coordinator for the day. “This was so great and we hope to do this more in the future.”

“We all do this work for the shelter to make it special for the dogs,” Hanlon said. “It’s our passion. “We are dependent here at the shelter for donations and volunteers.”

An enormous container full of woodchips awaited the crew as they pulled up to the shelter, happily greeted by other shelter staff and, of course, excited dogs.

The German and American volunteers spent around three hours shoveling, barrowing and spreading over 20,000 lbs. of wood chips to improve the dogs’ temporary home.

“The dogs get very muddy,” said Dianne Kölbl, one of the German shelter volunteers. “Spreading around the woodchips keeps mud down, which helps the dogs stay cleaner.”

The Soldiers that volunteered on Saturday are teammates on a local rugby team known as Black N’ Blue; a club that has been around for over 40 years, operating in and around Storck Barracks and made up of players from Germany, France and the U.S.

“The team is a group of super motivated people who found the sport that they really love,” said 1st Lt. Thomas Snowden, a platoon leader with Bravo Company 615th Aviation Support Battalion. “Everyone on the team wants to learn.”

Rugby is a social sport. It is common for opposing teams to play a game and then hang out together afterward. This is an aspect the team hopes to foster as the weather becomes more conducive for matches.

Sgt. Arturo Garza, Section Chief for Bravo Company 615th Aviation Support Battalion, explained that there is a common understanding and bond created through playing rugby together with players from other countries.

“It's an example of how the Army prepares us,” Garza explained. “We're a melting pot. We mix cultures and move forward towards a common purpose.”