The Stuttgart military community, in conjunction with Army Community Service, recognized Make a Difference Day, the national day of volunteering, Oct. 24 (and 23) by providing aid to local organizations and beautifying public areas.
Last year, the day (usually held on the fourth Saturday in October) inspired three million people in the United States to help 20 million others, according to U.S.A. Weekend.
This year, groups from U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart helped make a difference to the German community through donating to an animal shelter and cleaning up local areas.
The Masons and Boy Scouts cleaned up a small stretch of the Stuttgarter Strasse, the back road between Patch and Panzer, collecting eight bags of litter.
Karen Jorgenson, station manager of the Panzer American Red Cross, and her volunteers cleaned the housing area on Panzer Kaserne, picking up 12 pounds of trash in the process.
“Some folks who saw us picking up thanked us right there and then,” she said.
Junior and Daisy Girl Scout troops from Patch and Robinson Barracks, as well as the German-American Outreach Club, Kontakt, delivered more than 2,000 pounds of dog and cat food, kitty litter, treats, blankets and toys to local animal shelters in Böblingen and Stuttgart-Botnang. The troops gathered the food through donations from USAG Stuttgart community members.
“It is amazing how much the Girls have collected in such a short time,” said Angelika Schmidt-Straube, chairperson of the Tierschutzverein Stuttgart e.V. (‘Animal Protection Club Stuttgart’). “We will probably be able to feed our animals for two weeks on what was delivered.”
The animal shelter relies mainly on donations, as well as a small city budget, Straube added. “We need €1.7 million a year to keep the shelter going and this large donation is just wonderful!”
Other USAG Stuttgart community members plan to donate human food to the Stuttgarter Tafel, a local soup kitchen, later in the week.
This year’s Make a Difference Day marked the first time the garrison participated, said Laura-Jean Davis, the Army Community Service Army Volunteer Corps program manager.
“Since we are not in the U.S., we wanted to go out into the German community and help there,” she added. “We are so fortunate to be in this community that we felt that we had to give something back.”