Soldiers perform community service in Leesburg and Loudon County area

Soldiers from Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team, spread mulch at the community garden at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve in Loudon County June 2 as part of the unit's community service day. (Photo by Mr. Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard)

LEESBURG, Va. — Approximately 40 Soldiers from the Leesburg-based Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team performed community service projects in the Leesburg and Loudon County areas June 2 to show their appreciation for the great support the community has provided in recent years.

“I think it is great,” said Spc. Garry Brown, an acting team leader in Company C who works as a probation officer in Loudon County in his full-time civilian job. “The community was so good to us when we came back from Afghanistan and Iraq and for us to be able to give back to the community is a great thing. It is our time to give back to them.”

The Soldiers, along with a number of family members, helped build a memorial garden at the Arcola Elementary School in Aldie, spread mulch and assisted with gardening work at the Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, painted and cleaned at the Morven Equestrian Center for the Loudoun Therapeutic Riding Association, performed gardening work and clean up at St. David’s Episcopal Church, assisted Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers with landscaping for an elderly widow and helped conduct inventory at Loudoun County Interfaith Relief.

“This is fantastic,” said Stuart Younkin of the work performed by Company C Soldiers. “It helps us move our program along, and it is a big help. Spreading this mulch is that much less that we have to worry about later this summer, so now we can concentrate on growing our vegetables.”

Younkin, a former member of the Virginia Guard who served in the Leesburg unit from 1988 to 1996 and who now works as the youth outreach specialist for Loudon County, explained that the garden at Banshee Reeks is used for young people who perform community service hours, and the food grown is provided to a food bank run by Loudoun County Interfaith.

Susan Mandel Giblin, executive director of Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers, expressed her appreciation as well as that of her entire staff. “You truly made a difference in this care receiver’s life,” she said.

David O. Dwyer, director of operations for Loudoun Interfaith Relief, said the Soldiers from Company C were “amazing” as they sorted and stacked 500 crates of food in about four hours. “They wouldn’t take a break even when I asked them several times,” he said. “They worked hard, saw what needed to be done and completed the job. Their help was invaluable.”

Approximately 200 people attended a company open house where the unit served food and had static displays along with information displays from the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, Middleburg Police, Virginia Defense Force, VFW Post 1177, Civil Air Patrol and representatives from the Girl Scouts of America. Soldiers from Company C also challenged the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office to a tug of war and were victorious with the assistance of Leesburg Mayor Kristen Umstattd.

“The community has been super supportive of us through multiple deployments, and I have been really impressed by how much support they have put behind us,” said 1st Lt. Kevin J. Hoffman, commander of Company C. “This is a way for us to say thank you and give back a little bit. This is a way for them to do something in the community, do something local and learn about organizations that do things for Soldiers. They can get first-hand knowledge of the folks that are doing important things in the community.”

One of the programs at the Morven Equestrian Center provides Soldiers returning from overseas deployments to work with the horses in a therapy program, and Soldiers from Company C were able to spend time with the horses during the community service work.

Hoffman singled out the Virginia Defense Force among the organizations that came out to support the unit’s open house. “They are more and more becoming an important part of what we do as we focus more on our homeland defense mission,” he said. Members of the VDF have strong connections with the community, and those connections have been very valuable for the company during state active duty missions in the past, he said. Hoffman also expressed appreciation for the support of the Virginia National Guard Counterdrug Task Force and the Virginia Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion for their assistance with the open house, as well as the Company C Family Readiness Group led by Heather Hoffman. The FRG co-hosted the event.

Company Mascot “Charlie Stonewall” also attended the event. Charlie is in training to be a therapy dog and attends events in the Leesburg area to help raise awareness about the Virginia National Guard.

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