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by Pvt. Elizabeth Johnson - 128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

7-Sep-2017 - ORANGE, Texas — The sound of scraping metal on concrete from moving forklifts and pallet jacks, combined with the whirring, mechanical sounds of engines fill a warehouse in Orange, Texas, Sept. 7.

Inaccessible commodities donated by businesses across the nation, such as water, toiletries, diapers, clothing and food were shuffled onto military vehicles to be delivered to local churches and shelters where civilian volunteers and Soldiers distributed the goods to suffering Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Army Spc. Akeem C. Martin, a chaplain’s assistant, who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 536th Brigade Support Battalion, Texas National Guard, is one of the many citizen-Soldiers who helped with the delivery of supplies to Texan locals.

“Helping in this way makes you realize that you’re part of something bigger than yourself, and it’s amazing to see the community come together like it has,” Martin said.

Martin’s mission is twofold: he assists in the distributions of goods, and also disseminates spiritual relief to Soldiers through religious services alongside the chaplain at the various sites they visited.

Martin works with several different chaplains on relief missions. Both Martin and the chaplains have visited multiple towns along routes from Orange to Katy and Rosenberg, attending to victims with prayers and temporal essentials.

Martin’s day begins early in the morning with planning and preparations to visit sites where donations will be distributed.

“I wake up at five, I do whatever I have to get done, and then we head out and start with the Point of Distribution Station missions,” Martin said.

He explained that the families they have visited have expressed gratitude for the delivered goods.

“The children from these places we’ve visited asked us to take pictures with them, and mothers who have lost everything made it clear how the good have helped,” Martin said.

The Orange First United Pentecostal Church is one of many places that Martin and other Soldiers have visited to deliver supplies. Often, civilian volunteers wait at the shelters and churches with open doors to help unload the necessities Soldiers bring, which has been good to see, Martin said.

“This is the first time I’ve been mobilized for a relief effort like this,” said Martin. “I had no idea what I would see, no idea what I would do, but everything has worked out like it should have. We were able to accomplish the mission of helping the people of Texas and provide spiritual support to Soldiers.”

When the day’s work is done, the civilian volunteers at First United and Soldiers gather in a circle to pray and then go outside for pictures. Some of the civilians showed gratitude with words and handshakes to the Soldiers who contributed.

“The smallest things can make a difference. What I’m doing makes me feel good about the mission, and what I’m doing to help people,” said Martin. “As loyal Texans like to say, Texas proud, Texas strong.”

At the end of the day, Martin and the chaplain brief the day, perform hygiene and go to bed around ten or eleven, only to wake up and start their service all over again the next day.

Source: dvidshub.net

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