By: Brittany Raines
Small Community, Big Village
Sounds contradictory, right? Let me explain. Both on the installation and off, our community is small in size but big in hearts, helping hands and compassion for our communities.
Here at Fort Drum, a village is easy to come by if you are open to it. Your village can be found within organizations such as the Spouses’ Club, youth groups, chapels, and other military services. Service members and spouses’ are easily connected to others who are like-minded. This cultivates a village for the time they are at this duty station. Further, there are groups like this outside the installation. Because the surrounding community is incredibly supportive of our service members, our villages extend beyond the gates. Having personal and community support empowers groups to make a difference together.
Giving Tuesday Military
This initiative started small--as many new programs do. Because our movement was so inspiring, we had individuals reach out to us even before our planning began. This is a testament to the impact of small acts of kindness and the potential a community has to grow.
While many people are preparing for the holidays or settling in from a recent move, we have more than twenty organizations ready to make an impact through kindness in our community. What’s better, we will be inspiring community giving, both inside the gates and in neighborhood schools and surrounding communities as well.
This year, our service opportunities extend far and wide. We have teamed up with the Red Cross to host two blood drives with the theme “Battle of the Badges” which has allowed us to work closely with the Department of Emergency Services. Once we got the ball rolling, our vision grew to a 24 hour day of giving. We are planning to deliver treats to first responders, hospital personnel, and teachers. We will also be committing small acts of kindness throughout the community that day. Our committee has developed food drives with a school for their backpack program and ZooNY in Watertown to benefit Feed Our Vets.
Further, our Spouses’ Club and housing communities partner on a coat drive to donate to the Urban Mission. Also, we are asking community members to write cards to support the Veteran Pen Pal Project-Operation Holiday Salute. This program delivers cards to veterans who are in hospice across the nation for the holidays to bring comfort and positive thoughts in their final moments.
The Girl Scouts will be writing inspiring messages at nursing homes. The Cub Scouts will also be delivering donations to the SPCA and first responders. Cornell Cooperative Extension has committed to kindness with their youth after school programs, and Starbucks on Fort Drum is encouraging paying it forward with paid post-it notes. Our Giving Tuesday Military committee has found incredible success this year in collaboration with organizations with whom many of us already have connections.
Not only are we offering countless ways to be involved in community service on December 1st, but we have several community sponsors who have assisted in making our projects happen. Some of these sponsors include First Command, AmeriCU, Armed Forces Banks, Stewart’s Shops, and other small, local businesses.
Sit for a minute and think about our ten committee members. Then think about the twenty organizations that have committed to a donation drive or volunteer service. Finally, consider the many lives each of those individuals will touch in one day. The hundreds of lives saved by our blood drive that one day. One day really can make a difference. Why does counting our acts of kindness that day matter? Because we are making a transformation; a transformation in mindset that will benefit our entire community and beyond.
The late screenwright, Howard Zinn, lived life to inspire others to make history. He stated, “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” Our mission is just this. Your one act on one day may feel like a drop in the bucket. However, coming together as a community to make a change will create ripples, and the more drops, the bigger those ripples become.
This mindset of making waves of change cannot easily be stopped or forgotten. One act or one million, kindness matters.
About the Author:
Brittany Raines is the 2017 Armed Forces Insurance Fort Drum Spouse of the Year. Her family was named the 2020 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) National Volunteer Family of the Year.
An avid volunteer, Brittany prides herself on advocating for community needs and collaborating between organizations to serve others. She has taken networking to a powerful level at her current duty station, and has worked to increase connections to further bridge Fort Drum with the surrounding area. Currently, Brittany volunteers for the North Country Spouses' Club, Girl Scouts, the Chapel, the Resident Advisory Board, and her children's sports teams and schools.
GivingTuesdayMilitary holds a special place in Brittany's heart. After giving back to every community she's lived since childhood, this mission has provided a way to use her skills and connect them with her passion for helping others.