A Civil Affairs Soldier donated 250 new copies of the Disney book “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to the USO of North Carolina at their Soldier Support Center location, Oct. 26.
Staff Sgt. Contavious L. Miles, Chicago native, civil affairs specialist, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), 95th CA Brigade (A), purchased a storage unit at an auction and found cases upon cases of books inside
Miles explained that some of the books he found in the storage unit were damaged, but wanted to give those that were not to the USO.
“I wanted to give back to the organization that has given me so much,” said Miles. “They’ve always been there for me so I might as well give back.”
“He dropped off five cases of brand new books, and we are always excited to get donations, but especially of children’s books,” said Beverly Jackson, USO of NC. “We have several programs that focus on reading, and we bring a lot of other elements into reading, connecting with Families through our programs like United through Reading, Read to Connect, and our Storytime program for preschoolers.”
Jackson said that there are so many different ways that they can use Miles’ donation.
“It’s a direct way to support service members and their Families,” said Jackson. “It’s really extra special when it comes from another active-duty service member, because he knows the value, and he knows it goes back to someone who is going to benefit from this donation. He can feel good about that and know that there’s value in what he’s doing.”
Miles started his journey to give back while at Joint Base Lewis McCord, Washington.
“A few years ago I started the process of being inducted into the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club, and I sat down with my mentor and one of the things he said to me was that you have to better not only yourself, but those around you,” said Miles. “He asked me, ‘what are you contributing to your community, your organization, your friends and Family?’”
Miles explained that from these conversations, he started to focus not only on military schools, civilian education, but also on volunteering.
“I started building up my volunteer hours and then I started to see the effects it was having on myself and others around me,” said Miles. “I’ve been volunteering ever since.”
For completing 500 volunteer service hours in a year’s time, Miles was presented the Presidential Volunteer Service Medal during a ceremony, Oct. 4.
“I am honored to serve on Staff Sgt. Miles’ team. I am exceptionally proud I do not have to look outside of this brigade to find clear and unambiguous examples of what makes us special, our values,” said Col. Jason Slider, commander 95th CAB (A). “Staff Sgt. Miles exemplifies the values of trust, teamwork, accountability and taking care of each other.”
The former infantry Soldier continues to give back by volunteering at several organizations on and around Fort Bragg.
“I’ve been doing a little bit of everything,” said Miles. “I volunteer to help homeless veterans through Southern CC Inc. I also volunteer with the USO of North Carolina and Fort Bragg Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers averaging between five to eight hours of volunteer service a week.”
The Fort Bragg BOSS program services around 16,000 single Soldiers annually, so they rely heavily on support from volunteers.
“He never shies away from an opportunity to volunteer. He is definitely indispensable,” said Sgt. Richard Vetch, president, Fort Bragg BOSS. “He is always available to drive vans for us, work with planning and execution of events. He is definitely an essential member of the BOSS team.”
Continuing his volunteerism and giving back, Miles has some lofty goals.
“My next goal is to try and complete one thousand volunteer hours in a year and be inducted into the Audie Murphy Club,” said Miles. “I also want a complete my bachelor’s degree in social work because that is what I want to do when I get out of the Army.”
Living up to the comments made by his mentor, Miles is working hard to reach his goals.
“He’s going to school, which takes up a lot of his time,” said Jackson. “Going to school is a really great thing for him to be doing, and I’m really proud of him and love to see our volunteers and service members succeeding and growing.”