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Soldiers sacrifice time off to help Wiregrass communities

Second Lt. Damien Watkins, 2nd Lt. John Zeidler, and WO1 Randal Alexander, D Co. 1-145th Avn. Rgt. Basic Officer Leadership Course Class 14-020, paint walls and doorways to spruce up the Billy Adkins Community Center in Daleville Aug. 16. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Daniel Barbella)

Second Lt. Damien Watkins, 2nd Lt. John Zeidler, and WO1 Randal Alexander, D Co. 1-145th Avn. Rgt. Basic Officer Leadership Course Class 14-020, paint walls and doorways to spruce up the Billy Adkins Community Center in Daleville Aug. 16. (Photo by 2nd Lt. Daniel Barbella)

Published: September 12, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 12, 2014) -- Wiregrass communities continue to depend on Fort Rucker volunteers to help accomplish many worthwhile projects.

Working shoulder-to-shoulder with area residents, so far this year various student classes and civilians here have contributed more than 5,000 hours of community service through numerous civic, city and food drive projects.

The majority of these hours were logged on Saturdays, when most Soldiers would otherwise be spending time with Family and friends.

Aug. 23 was one such Saturday. Beginning at an already hot 8 a.m., Fort Rucker Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, including those from Lowe Army Heliport, Tabernacle and Runkle stagefields; HHC 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment and Senior Leader Course Class 14-005 at the NCO Academy, were hard at work on the 18th Habitat for Humanity home in Enterprise.

“Despite the heat of the day, the Soldiers laid sod, painted the house’s interior, installed electrical outlets, finished minor inside work and cleaned around the house,” said Hector Cardona, Coffee County Habitat for Humanity chapter volunteer.

“At the end of the day, the Soldiers enjoyed lunch provided by Club Yesopoch of Enterprise,” Cardona said.

“On behalf of Coffee County Habitat for Humanity, many thanks to the Soldiers for their commitment and dedication to helping others. Special thanks to 1st Sgt. Bryan Clancy, 1-212th; Staff Sgt. Edward Marshall, SLC Class 14-005, NCO Academy; and Sgt. Michaela Granada, 1-11th for helping coordinate this Habitat workday,” Cardona said.

Painting projects are frequently requested by area organizations.

Aug. 16, more than 40 Basic Officer Leadership Course students from D Company, 1st Bn., 145th Avn. Regt. Class 14-020 arrived at the Billy Adkins Community Center in Daleville geared up and ready to paint walls and doorways to spruce up a building in transition.

“When finished, the building looked refreshed and our Soldiers left with a sense of pride in a job well-done,” said 2nd Lt. Daniel Barbella, class project leader.

Several organizations offer annual projects for classes and Fort Rucker volunteers have assisted the Helping Hands Mission in Enterprise for several years. Sept. 6, BOLC Class 14-021, Team 1, D Co., 1-145th Avn. Regt. took its turn.

“We participated in yard-sale and store organization at Helping Hands Mission from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., to provide community service support and improve community relations,” said 2nd Lt. Mason McCoy, class project leader.

“Volunteers set-up and ran a ‘yard-sale,’ collected over $120 of non-perishable items prior to the event, distributed non-perishable goods to community members in need and helped organize merchandise at Mission,” he said.

“Community service opportunities like this provide meaningful experiences for us, and it gives us a chance to get to know people we otherwise wouldn’t meet,” McCoy said.

Some classes never get to know those who benefit from their service.

The long-standing relationship between Fort Rucker and the Wiregrass Area United Way Food Bank is an example of how Soldiers serve members of neighboring communities they may never meet face to face.

Since February, NCO Academy and BOLC classes and the Feds Feed Families campaign have contributed more than 38,000 pounds of food to benefit those in need in surrounding communities, according to Julie Gonzalez, food bank development director.

“It is amazing to me that what started as a community project has turned into a movement resulting in Fort Rucker becoming a major source of provision for the Wiregrass Area United Way Food Bank,” Gonzalez said. “We would like to say ‘thank you’ to every person who has contributed to the food bank in some way and ‘thank you’ for your service to our country. We appreciate your help in feeding those in need.”

Fort Rucker’s sustained positive impact on surrounding communities through selfless service continues to be felt month after month, year after year, in the honorable tradition of Soldiers and civilians here.

This article was originally published at

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