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Helping hands: Marines, civilian-Marines make a difference

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr., Editor | | September 16, 2010

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Nearly 200 Marines and civilian-Marines from various commands throughout Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany used their can-do attitudes and community spirit to reach out to neighbors in Albany and surrounding areas during the United Way of Southwest Georgia’s Day of Caring, Sept. 9.

The Day of Caring is a yearly community-wide event connecting volunteers with local non-profit organizations to assist with various projects.

The volunteers, representing Marine Corps Logistics Command, Maintenance Center Albany, Marine Corps Systems Command and MCLB Albany, demonstrated the theme ‘Live United’ as they worked together to make the community stronger and better for all.

During breakfast at Darton College, prior to kicking off the work day, the volunteers heard from several speakers before disbursing to various locations.

“The United Way Day of Caring project gives the opportunity for hundreds of volunteers every year to give back,” said Dwayne Myles, president and chief executive officer, United Way.

He also said Marine Corps Logistics Command had been the lead partner in the last three years, putting words into action.

“This is truly a great thing as we come together to serve friends and neighbors,” said Maj. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, LOGCOM. “I am truly grateful to be a part of it.”

“There are about 235 work days in a year and there are more than 200 of us gathered here today,” Kessler said. “In one day we will come together, conduct and accomplish almost a year’s worth of individual service for our community. In just one day we will give more than 1,600 hours of our time, enthusiasm, energy and hope to people who need a full measure of these gifts. Together, as members of our community, we will turn just one day into 200 days of caring,” he said.

The 20 volunteer teams shared their time and talents at nonprofit agencies including The Therapeutic Riding Center, Chehaw, the Girl Scouts, Southwest Georgia Council on Aging, Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity.

For Sgt. Matt Harper, motor transportation mechanic, Mobile Maintenance Assist Team, LOGCOM, Day of Caring is more than just one day of helping the disadvantaged.

“Today, our mission is to put siding on a house, which will provide shelter to a low-income family,” said Harper, who volunteers at the Habitat for Humanity at least once every three months. “As Marines, we should always give back to the community, no matter where we live. Volunteering builds camaraderie and helps those who need it the most.”

Harper and his fellow Marines worked on the outside of one house, while other Marines in his section, wearing masks, gutted the interior and exterior of a home down the street.

Jimmy Cross, construction foreman, Habitat for Humanity, was glad to have help from the Marines.

“This is a group effort. If it were not for the Marines, I would be doing this myself,” he said as he stood drenched in sweat.

Throughout the day, the volunteers forged friendships as they completed many hands-on tasks including raking yards, cutting lawns, repairing broken water lines, cleaning water troughs for horses, washing windows and painting.

Several volunteers from Command, Control, Communications and Computers, Enterprise Support Division, LOGCOM, painted at the Thronateeska Heritage Center.

“The Day of Caring is a great opportunity to give back to the community,” said Robin Downs, information assurance officer, C-4, whose coveralls were spotted with dried multi-colored paint.

“We are one community and it is great to see everyone come together to assist those in need. I wish we could do this more than one time a year.”

For one Marine, the event was considered ‘all in a day’s work.’

“To me, the Day of Caring means labor for the community,” said Sgt. Chris Sinclair, administration noncommissioned officer, Military Personnel Branch, MCLB Albany. “I really enjoyed being outside working and getting my hands dirty. The group I was with cleaned a parking lot, painted and cut grass.

He added the Day of Caring is a day set aside to give back to the community and he looks forward to next year’s event.

This is the first year Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany to participate in the event.

“This has been a traditional event for Marine Corps Logistics Command, and following their lead, we plan to make it a tradition by continuing to participate in this great event,” said Col. Terry V. Williams, commanding officer, MCLB Albany. “As a part of this great community, we have a responsibility as citizens to contribute to our community and this is one way we have to give back. This is important not only to those receiving the help but also those who provide it.”

Whether the volunteers spent time working outside painting and washing windows or inside organizing cabinets at the food bank, they know the time they spent giving back makes a difference to the entire community.


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