Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Henry W. Marris III
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
Music and laughter filled the morning air as more than 300 volunteers from Fort Carson and surrounding communities gathered at Iron Horse Park Saturday to kick off Fort Carson Make a Difference Day.
MADD is an annual national volunteer day dedicated to helping others, said Joey Bautista, Fort Carson Army Volunteer Corps manager.
“MADD is a national day set aside for doing good works,” Bautista said. “It is the largest community service volunteer effort conducted on a national level. (MADD) is one way to help our military community and help keep Fort Carson the ‘Best Hometown in the Army.’”
Volunteers were a mix of Soldiers, Family members, civilian employees who work on Fort Carson and citizens from the communities around post. Col. David Grosso, garrison commander, was on hand to help start the day’s cleanup efforts.
“I want to thank everyone for volunteering,” Grosso said. “The whole group was made of volunteers, whether it’s volunteering to be a Soldier, Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. They are all about serving others.”
One group joining the effort was Boy Scout Troop 138, from nearby Fountain, led by Scoutmaster Darren Brown.
The Scouts are required to do community service in order to earn certain badges, but helping out on the installation is more than just meeting a requirement, Brown said.
“Giving back to the community is part of the Boy Scout philosophy, and ‘Make a Difference Day’ just helps reinforce that philosophy,” he said. “I hope (the Scouts) take from this a sense of community and what it means to be involved. We might be a Fountain troop, but we want to support Fort Carson as best we can.”
According to Bautista, volunteer efforts were focused on Iron Horse Park and the dog park area, Cheyenne and Choctaw Village housing areas, and the fence line and drainage ditches near Gate 4. He said Iron Horse Park was a main focus due to severe flooding in the park earlier this year.
Crews in the park painted pavilions, spread fresh wood chips in the playground area and cleaned up trash and other debris from the drainage ditches. Visitors to the dog park will also have the opportunity to take their pets on new equipment installed by volunteers.
Volunteers in the Cheyenne and Choctaw Village housing areas repainted curbs and speed bumps to increase visibility for safety, and also cleaned up trash in and around sewer drains.
Family member and neighborhood manager for Balfour Beatty Community Housing, Diana Cheyney, said it was important to be a part of the volunteer effort with her daughter.
“It sets a really good example for her,” Cheyney said. “We are a military Family, so it is important for us to volunteer and do our part. It’s all about giving back to the community.”