Story and photo by Spc. Nathan Thome
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
More than 350 volunteers chose to spend their Saturday giving back to their community by cleaning up Fort Carson as part of Make A Difference Day.
“MADD is a day of national volunteering, and Fort Carson volunteers are the force behind the force,” said Joey Bautista, Fort Carson Army Volunteer Corps manager, Army Community Service. “Fort Carson has participated in MADD since it was founded 22 years ago.”
Always held the fourth Saturday in October, MADD is the nation’s largest day of community service.
To kickoff the event, Soldiers, Family members and community members gathered at Iron Horse Park for a complimentary breakfast before being split off into six groups to clean up various areas across post.
The first group stayed at Iron Horse Park to rake leaves and pick up trash around the area.
Some volunteers brought their children to participate in the event.
Wanting to spread the word about MADD, the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program put together a group of Soldiers who tackled the Fort Carson dog park. They removed weeds around the fences and combed the area for trash.
“MADD isn’t just about volunteering; it’s about helping those who need it and making a difference in people’s lives,” said Spc. Elizabeth Erickson, BOSS vice president, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
After finishing with the dog park, the Soldiers linked up with two more groups cleaning the fence line between Gate 1 and Gate 3, picking up trash along the trail behind military housing.
“We decided to help the other groups with their areas,” said Erickson. “We are one big Family, and Family helps each other out.”
The last groups gathered in the Choctaw Village military housing to paint wooden fences, and re-apply paint to mark speed bumps and storm water drains.
“I volunteer because I like giving back, and I like the community that it brings; you meet really great people,” said Spc. Tyler Stryffeler, 62nd Sapper Company, 4th Engineer Battalion. “People get the opportunity to see and be with people who have similar interests.”
Stryffeler, who arrived at Fort Carson in early October, said he likes to volunteer as much as he can. He heard about MADD the day before the event and asked around to find out how he could volunteer.
The volunteers returned to Iron Horse Park for a barbecue and pizza lunch, where they sat together and talked about the work they did in their groups.
“Whatever the volunteers do today, they are going to make a difference and impact the community,” said Bautista. “Small, big — the thing is, you’re here to make a difference; that’s what it’s all about.”