‘Bulldogs’ volunteer on Make A Difference Day

Staff Sgt. Jamey Ard, a Bradley fighting vehicle system maintainer assigned to 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, helps sort and pack food at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank in El Paso on Saturday, Make A Difference Day. Ard volunteers with his brigade to give back to the community of El Paso. Photos by Felicia Jagdatt, 3rd BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs.

Staff Sgt. Jamey Ard, a Bradley fighting vehicle system maintainer assigned to 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, helps sort and pack food at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank in El Paso on Saturday, Make A Difference Day. Ard volunteers with his brigade to give back to the community of El Paso. Photos by Felicia Jagdatt, 3rd BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs.

By Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt, 3rd BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:

(El Paso, Texas, Nov. 2, 2017)

“Bulldog” Soldiers and family members from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, volunteered at the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank to help sort and pack 10,177 pounds of food Saturday during Make A Difference Day.

The people who run the food bank believe no one should suffer from hunger, and they made it their mission in 2012 to collect and distribute food throughout the greater El Paso community. The Bulldogs share the same belief, and they made it their mission to give back to the community that gives them so much.

Although the volunteer work took place on Make A Difference Day, a day when people throughout the country volunteer, for a few of the Soldiers, volunteering is a normal occurrence and has a personal significance.

“I used to be homeless,” said Spc. Robert Castro, an automated logistics specialist assigned to 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 3rd BCT, 1st AD. “My mom would come to these food shelters and get food, so when they said that they needed help, I raised my hand to help.”

Soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, help sort and pack 10,177 pounds of food.

Helping to sort and pack the food was more difficult than it sounds. Volunteers had to pay a great deal of attention to detail to ensure safety of the products, and efficiency of distribution to the region.

While packing the food, volunteers separated and weighed each food item depending on the type. The types were cans, dry foods, snacks, condiments and cereals. This helped when they put the boxes on pallets for distribution.

Also, Soldiers needed to look for openings in the donated packages and dents in cans. Failure to do so could result in contamination of food items or illness.

Pvt. Mason Landeros, a combat medic specialist assigned to 3rd BCT, 1st AD, helps sort and pack food.

Volunteers disposed of ripped packages, but they took the labels off cans for donation to a pig farm.

Even with all of the steps of packing, these Soldiers and their family members were able to complete the mission. “It’s awesome to have this many people,” said Pvt. Mason Landeros, a combat medic specialist assigned to 3rd BCT, 1st AD. “Packing this food wouldn’t get out any faster without this many volunteers.”

One of the many volunteers was Layla Lewis, 6, who asked her mom, Capt. Mechelle Lewis, if she could do this all the time.

Landeros is also someone who plans to come back, and offered advice to his fellow Soldiers.

“Volunteer!” Landeros said. “It’s better than sitting home and playing video games.”

Tephanie Hopper, program manager, Fort Bliss Army Volunteer Corps, said people from Fort Bliss volunteered on Make A Difference Day at many places throughout the community.

For example, some volunteered for Rebuild El Paso, while others helped Candlelighters, an organization that helps children battling cancer, by building a garden for them. On post, volunteers cleaned the USO El Paso facilities.

For more information on volunteering while stationed at Fort Bliss, email fortblissvolunteer@yahoo.com or call 569-5500.