Bagging leaves
Maj. Kandice Hines, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, and Belton High School sophomore Ashutosh Ghamande, work together to bag up leaves during a city-wide service event in Belton, Texas, April 2. Belton's annual One Community, One Day event was established in 2011. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

BELTON, Texas - Boosting community spirit and camaraderie are a group from Belton High School’s Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps who joined about 100 volunteers for the city’s One Community, One Day event here April 2.

Students from the Youth Advisory Commission along with the Belton police and fire departments, church groups, families and individuals from Fort Hood collectively volunteered more than 300 hours.

“One Community, One Day is a yearly event to help people in need in our community,” said Manuel Zapata, coordinator, Belton Parks and Recreation Department. “It’s important for community building and also encourages others to do the same.”

Cadets Sgt. Brendan Hall and Sgt. Allanis Philip, Belton High School MCJROTC, are setting the example for their peers on teamwork, leadership and community improvement.

“One Community, One Day offers people an opportunity to visualize a team leader to look up to,” Hall said. “Coming out here is about having fun, character building and helping the community.”

“Community service aligns with all military values because it’s giving back to your country and, here, in a more local way,” Philip said. “It’s amazing when you do something nice for others and you see a smile on their face. Making their day means a lot.”

Katheryn Bankston, who has participated for the past four years, was one of 21 Belton residents who signed up for the event, needing help with her garden beds and yard.

“These good kids are unbelievable and hard workers. I truly appreciate it,” she said. “It’s something they are gaining from community service and making new friends.”

Volunteering alongside the youth was Maj. Kandice Hines, sustainability leader, Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, who advocates for community and environmental stewardship and leverages volunteer opportunities to foster positive relationships.

“The City of Belton is making a difference in the lives of individuals who are unable to do these projects for themselves,” Hines said. “It was rewarding to see this event and participate alongside these selfless students who are working together with a common goal.”

Philip was inspired to see the involvement of many community partners who supported the event, including those from Fort Hood.

“Fort hood is doing such great things for our country,” she said. “When you take it down and do the little things, it’s amazing that Soldiers like Maj. Hines are willing to get involved and make the communities better.”

Philip also encouraged others to follow her lead and those of her peers.

“Be bigger than yourself,” she said. “And encourage yourself to try to be the best version of yourself.”