Sow into your community by volunteering

  • Published
  • By Maj. Darin A. Gibbs
  • 71st Logistics Readiness Squadron commander
Wow, we have such a great community in Enid, Okla. There is so much to be involved with and so much we can give back to our community.

I wanted to take a brief moment to remind us how fortunate we are to be members of the U.S. Air Force and the blessings that we experience. If you happened to live on base, you've got a gymnasium, commissary, childcare, swimming pool, bowling alley, and gas station, all within a quarter to a half mile from your house.

We live in a gated community with great security forces looking out for us and cool airplanes flying over us. Even if you don't live on base, we are fortunate and blessed to have the government pay a basic allowance for housing so that we can live comfortably in a residence of our choice.

My point is, we are very fortunate and often we may take it for granted. Sometimes we don't realize how blessed we are until we take a step back and reflect how others in our community are living and are experiencing.

I had the opportunity to go out into our great city and spend some time serving the areas of town that needed some improvements, such as yard work. In this area of town, residents couldn't afford to have a lawn mower so the vegetation grew very thick.

Local churches afforded the opportunity for anyone to come out and "clean up the neighborhood". The city donated two 40-foot garbage dumpsters, which we filled to the top.

A team of 50 people from around Enid, including members of Vance AFB, cleaned up the streets and yards. It was well organized. Team leaders had already scoped out the neighborhoods in advance and talked with the residents. The residents were asked if we could mow their four foot tall lawns, clear brush, weed eat, haul trash out, and clear sidewalks with the understanding that we just wanted to serve them and sow into the Enid community.

Residents loved it! Some were so motivated that after we cleared their property, they joined the team and helped work other properties. After a few hours of work, several blocks of a residential district were looking pristine.

Another opportunity to give back to the community concerned the children of Enid. Recently, a few organizations combined resources and donated enough funds to purchase 1,500 back packs for children who could not afford them. In addition to the back packs, tennis shoes and school supplies such as crayons, markers, pencils, and note books were donated.

Another instance to step up and give back was available as 1,500 backpacks needed to be stuffed with school supplies and tennis shoes and then handed out to Enid's children. There is nothing more heart warming that tugs on the heart strings, than a child receiving a gift so desperately needed in order for them to succeed in school and a fresh pair of "tennies" to help get them there.

There are several other opportunities to sow into Enid. There are groups that visit the elderly in nursing homes. All the elderly want often times is a caring person to sit down and carry a conversation with them. Many are lonely, but as you enter the room, their faces light up. They love children too. You don't have to spend the entire day, but just an hour or two makes a big difference in the quality of life of our elderly.

Additionally, there are opportunities to feed the families of Enid. Could you volunteer just a couple hours to serve a meal to those less fortunate? Could you dedicate half of your Saturday to clean up the side of a highway or neighborhood? Could you spend just an hour handing out water on a hot summer day to those who need it in our city parks?

There is a huge amount of opportunity to sow into our community. Get connected through your local church, civic group, the Vance Airman & Family Readiness Center's volunteer coordinator, Terri Presa (213-7120) or the Vance Public Affairs Office to see what the needs are around our city. I guarantee you, your service will make a difference in someone's life, this community, and yourself.