Story and photos by Amanda Sullivan
More than 2,000 volunteers participated in Make a Difference Day events Saturday on Fort Leonard Wood. At the end of the day, more than 9,872 hours had been logged by volunteers.
It was the 11th year Fort Leonard Wood participated in the nationwide event, a national day of service where volunteers around the country complete projects in service of their communities.
“Make a Difference Day events build cooperation and trust for a positive, productive work environment for volunteers, military and paid staff,” said Rhonda Hustsell, Volunteer Corps coordinator. “It helps, promotes and strengthens volunteerism by uniting community volunteer efforts and supporting professional management.”
The day began with 335 runners participating in a 5k fun run to support Domestic Violence Awareness, followed by a continental breakfast at Army Community Service. After breakfast, the participants continued to their assigned project areas joining 1,665 volunteers in completing projects on and around the installation.
Twenty-seven projects were completed on the installation and surrounding areas. Projects on the installation included beautification and restoration projects in popular areas like Stone Mill Spring, Happy Hollow, the Memorial Groves, Colyer Park and the Engineer Trail.
Participants also collected shoe boxes filled with hygiene items for the St. James Veterans Home. The shoe boxes were decorated and judged based on character, personality and best decorations. After the contest, the boxes were hand-delivered to the veteran’s home.
Events concluded with lunch provided by the USO of Missouri and closing remarks by Col. Eric Towns, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander.
“At the heart of every service member and military family member is a strong sense of volunteerism; we have all volunteered to serve our country,” Towns said. “Today, you demonstrated that fact yet again as you came out to make a difference on our installation. In fact, you are demonstrating this alongside thousands of other communities across the nation who are, right now, hosting their own Make a Difference Day.”
Towns thanked volunteers for dedicating their time to improve quality of life on the installation.
“We all benefit from your efforts and I, for one, am very grateful that you have chosen to use your spare time to make our installation, our home, a better place to live and work,” Towns said.