FORT STEWART, Georgia — Normally, soldiers spend most of their time training or deployed, so interacting with families as a volunteer is a new experience for Staff Sgt. Josua Garo, a Fort Stewart soldier volunteer.
Garo, 369th Composite Truck Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, decided to volunteer during the pandemic because the 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, called on soldiers to help where possible and because of a sense of duty.
“It’s really awesome,” he said. “I’m glad I’m part of it. I feel like I’m giving life to the next generation, helping them grow and be healthy.”
It’s a few minutes before 11 a.m. on April 29, a Wednesday morning, and already two mothers walking with children in strollers are headed up the bus ramp at Fort Stewart’s Diamond Elementary School.
The food service staff and soldier volunteers watch the families approach and begin to call out to each other: “We need four lunches down here!”
White and red grocery bags go down the chain of staff and volunteers. Into the bags go fruits, cooked vegetables, waffles, milk, juice, and other food items. A final staff member hands the bags to the families.
The process repeats several more times as other families walk and drive up to the school’s bus ramp. In the middle of the chain is Garo, helping provide free lunches and breakfasts to on-post families via the DoDEA Fort Stewart School Meal Program during the COVID-19 pandemic. All told, he helps hand out 250 meals daily.
Across Fort Stewart, 10 soldiers are volunteering with the school lunch program, at Winn Army Community Hospital, and other locations. Fort Stewart’s Army Community Service is tracking the soldier volunteers.
Volunteering is a new experience for Garo. He has only been volunteering three days, and he plans to continue donating his time.
“As long as my unit allows me to do it, that’s how long I’m going to,” he said.
For information about the school meals program, visit dodea.edu/DiamondES/meals.cfm
This article was originally published on May 4, 2020, by the U.S. Army.