Volunteers from the Fort Bragg community enjoyed fun activities during National Volunteer Week, April 24 to 28.
Anyone who logged volunteer hours on the installation from January 2016 to February 2017 was eligible to participate in the events.
The week began with “Movie Madness” at Omni Cinemas, where Fort Bragg Army Community Service Installation Volunteer Services treated volunteers to a free movie ticket, small popcorn and small soda.
Throughout Volunteer Week, eligible community members could take advantage of specials around the installation, including 20 percent off lunch at Sports USA, Iron Mike Conference Center, Smoke Bomb Grille and more.
The highlight of the week for many volunteers was the annual Volunteer Picnic, held Thursday at McKellar’s Lodge.
During the picnic, IVS leaders presented Fort Bragg leadership with an illustrative check for $17,473,478.40. This represented the amount of money Fort Bragg’s 4,018 volunteers had saved the installation through their 723,240 volunteer hours.
Brig. Gen. Mark Gagne, Deputy Commanding General of Operations, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, expressed his appreciation for installation volunteers.
“This is our chance … to give you something back in return, because we all know that you do so much for our community here,” he said. “Fort Bragg would not be the same without what you do.”
Alice Stephens, Army Volunteer Corps coordinator, agreed and said community volunteers help support Fort Bragg Families and Soldiers. She emphasized the importance of volunteers in the current budget climate.
“With cutbacks and everything going on, (people) volunteering is helping Fort Bragg continue to stay ready.”
Stephens said volunteers fill in the gaps in several areas of the installation.
Volunteers at the picnic said they were happy to help the community.
“In life we’re supposed to serve and help others,” said Tomaika Abraham, who volunteers with Albritton Middle School.
When Abraham and her Family moved to the installation last year, she saw an opportunity to get out and assist at her daughter’s school.
Arturo and Argelio Rodriguez also saw an opening for serving the community when the USO of North Carolina opened a center at the Fayetteville Regional Airport.
Rodriguez, a veteran, said he enjoyed seeing USO when he was stationed in Vietnam in 1965.
“USO was helping us not only with shows but also with people who came and supported with doughnuts and things,” he said.
The couple said they volunteer with several organizations, but enjoy the impact USO has the most.
“Soldiers protect us; they are the main fighters for our freedom all over the world,” Rodriguez said. “This is one small way of giving something back. It’s a patriotic duty.”
After Volunteer Week, the installation held its quarterly Iron Mike Awards ceremony Wednesday for those volunteers who go above and beyond the typical line of duty.
Iron Mike awardees must have a specific number of volunteer hours and are determined by a panel, according to Stephens. This quarter, Fort Bragg honored 65 volunteers during the ceremony.
“Usually it’s 25 to 30,” Stephens said. “I think the number has increased because we have a lot of people who are wanting to make a difference.”
IVS staff encouraged potential volunteers to contact the organization.
“I just want the Fort Bragg community to know that there’s lots to do out there. If they want to volunteer, come see me and I will find them a spot to volunteer in whatever they want to do,” she said.
For more information on volunteering at Fort Bragg, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/us/bragg/programs/acs-volunteer-program or call 396-8160.