Doing our part: Members of Team Malmstrom support community during annual Day of Caring

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emerald Ralston
  • 341st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
Members of Team Malmstrom stepped up to form 44 teams to help more than 295 of Great Falls' elderly citizens prepare for the winter months during the annual Day of Caring, and also helped deliver 250 meals on wheels Oct. 12. 

The Day of Caring is an opportunity for members of the community to help the elderly by raking leaves, doing house and yard work, changing light bulbs and helping out with random chores the residents can't do themselves. 

After receiving their assignments from Jacque Stingley, coordinator of the event from the Great Falls post office, groups of volunteers went to houses all over Great Falls to perform their duties and were welcomed with open arms at each residence. 

"This is great," said Nina Drake, who has degenerative disk disease which limits her mobility. "I used to spend a lot of time in the yard so it's great when these boys can come out and help. I'm a military mom, so I appreciate when the Airmen come out to give back to the community." 

At another residence, members from the 341st Tactical Response Force raked leaves, changed light bulbs, pulled rhubarb plants and washed windows. 

"We got here focused on doing what was needed of us," said Airman 1st Class Andrew Perez, 341st TRF member. "We're helping the elders and enjoying doing what we have to do." 

Juanita Levitt was very appreciative of team of hard workers who came to her house. 

"This is absolutely a big help," she said happily. "There is just so much work to be done and I simply can't do it because I sprained my hip twice and I can't do it alone." 

Many seniors who take advantage of this event have been involved for years. 

"This is my third year and I'm always just so thankful," said Carole Wastcoat. "It's like a little gift from heaven." 

The elderly weren't the only ones expressing the emotions of the day. 

"Not only do we help the nation by serving in the military, but we also get a chance to serve the community," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Shaw, 341st Medical Operations Squadron. "It always feels good to reach out." 

It was a hands-on approach to helping. All those involved were happy for, not only what they could receive, but what they could give, as well. 

"It makes us smile to make them smile," Airman Perez said. 

Many of the teams went above and beyond the usual raking and cleaning, Ms. Stingley said. 

"I heard all kinds of great stories when the teams came in for chili after their work was done," she said. "One team, after helping on two jobs for seniors, raked an additional large yard that yielded 51 bags of leaves! Another large team worked until 5 p.m. on four jobs that grew with additional requests from seniors. They assisted one senior in painting a 100 foot fence and donated two gallons of paint so the job could be completed. Two other teams went 12 miles out of town to Sun Prairie to work on a wheelchair ramp and yet another team treated a senior to a drive to enjoy the fall colors and treated her to coffee and pie." 

Although many of the volunteers and seniors have a good time when the Day of Caring rolls around each year, there are still plenty of very real reasons why this event is held and why it is important. 

"The main reason this event is a worthwhile effort is because there is a clear need," Ms. Stingley said. "We only touch the surface of what is needed in the community in terms of helping our seniors. What we accomplish with this one-day volunteer effort, beyond the work that is done, is helping to make the public aware of the need. 

"Another reason is many people want to give to their community, they just need to be shown how," she said. "Giving can happen with donations of both money and time. If someone gives a portion of their time, they will see and understand the need and be more likely to monetarily support organizations that address and relieve the need." 

Helping to alleviate the needs of the community is one reason the Combined Federal Campaign is a big supporter of this annual event. 

"The CFC is all about raising awareness of what is needed in the community and providing an easy way for people to help," Ms. Stingley said. "Events like this show people how they can contribute physically and make a difference." 

As they appreciate the feeling of giving, several volunteers said they intended to do this again next year. 

"This opportunity made me feel really good," said Senior Airman Jeffery Baumgartner, 341st TRF. "It feels good to be able to give to the community and help those who are in need of what we can provide. I'd recommend this event to everyone as one to participate in next year."