EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Airmen from the 96th Maintenance Group took their skills and comradery to Eglin Elementary School just in time to help school officials open their doors for the new school year.
The team of 30, ranging from airman 1st class to chief master sergeant, helped clean and update the entire campus July 23 in support of World Wide Weapons Community Involvement Day – an initiative stemming from the weapons career field designed to encourage volunteerism in local communities.
The volunteer work included painting, pressure washing, raking, weeding, preparing a butterfly garden, moving heavy objects, cleaning gutters, removing old equipment and other yard work, according to Dennis Samac, Eglin Elementary School principal.
“We take great pride in our motto, “Serving those who serve ‘U.S.,’” and this project is very much appreciated each year,” Samac said in a letter to the 96th MXG commander.” “We take our job of educating the children of our service members to heart and we certainly appreciate the support we receive from Team Eglin.”
The team supports two events each year, with one of them being the school, according to Chief Master Sgt. Todd Folks, wing weapons manager.
“It’s surprising what we can accomplish with so much manpower,” said Folks. “When you have Airmen coming together outside of the work environment to achieve a goal, the end result is phenomenal.”
In previous years, the group also supported Habitat for Humanity, where Airmen helped to build part of a store and a house in Crestview and provided Christmas gift baskets to and spent time with pint-sized patients at Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart in Pensacola.
“It’s more than just getting credit for [volunteering],” said Folks. “It’s something you would want to do, not forced to do.”
Earlier this year, a team spent a day at the Air Force Enlisted Village where they helped tackle residents’ honey-do lists ranging from sprucing up flower beds to repairing furniture. The village is comprised of surviving spouses of retired enlisted U.S. Airmen aged 55-plus.
“It’s always great to give back to the community,” said Folks. “They’ve always been very supportive. I’ve been to nine bases and this is one of the most military-friendly communities I’ve been to.”
The 28-plus-year veteran encourages Airmen think outside the “mandatory fun” stigma and lend their time to a greater initiative.
“What’s one hour, two out of your life in the grand scheme of things?” he asked. “When we volunteer, it’s not about money, it’s about giving back to those who support us.”
Article by Jasmine Porterfield, Team Eglin Public Affairs