FORT STEWART, Ga. - The American Red Cross sponsored the 2011 Volunteer Awards and Recognition Ceremony, March 22, at the Main Post Chapel on Fort Stewart.

The ceremony recognized volunteers in the Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community for their commitment to the Soldiers in a time of need.

Brigadier General Jeffrey Phillips, deputy commanding general, 3rd Infantry Division, spoke at the event, thanking the volunteers for their hard work and service to America.

He said he realized how vital the Red Cross is from his mother, who volunteered with the organization. "The American Red Cross, in its 130 years of existence, is probably the premiere volunteer organization in the area of health care services," said Brig. Gen. Phillips. "I think the Red Cross serves as a model for other organizations."

He was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Ashmen, 3rd ID command sergeant major, Col. Kevin Milton, Stewart-Hunter garrison commander and Command Sergeant Major James Ervin, Stewart-Hunter garrison command sergeant major, to honor those in the local area who contributed their time to make sure the Red Cross messages got out.

One of the awardees was Brigitte Shanken, who was recognized for 33 years of service to the Red Cross.

Shanken said she volunteers because it feels wonderful and there have been numerous times over the years when she has seen people's faces who she has helped.

"It's something I can do with my eyes closed," she said. "This is my country, this is my town, this is my community. If I'm not willing to make a difference, who else is going to do it'"

Shanken added that she works at numerous other places in the community by volunteering. She also serves as the volunteer director for Winn Army Community Hospital.

The Red Cross for the area serviced more than 4,000 messages to Soldiers and their Family Members. Out of those messages, more than four out of five were to Soldiers not in Fort Stewart or Hunter Army Airfield area.

President Barack Obama recently proclaimed March as Red Cross month to persuade people to get out in the community and make a difference.