The U.S. Army Cadet Command requires that the JROTC units be involved in a Service Learning Project each year.

According to Lt. Col. John M. Walker, U.S. Army, Retired, JROTC Senior Army Instructor, Fort Payne’s JROTC unit opted to support the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center and the Gathering Place as part of their spring SLP.

The JROTC unit also supports the Local Marine Corps League Toys for Tots as part of their fall SLP.

“This project was also submitted to the Alabama Bicentennial Schools Project and was selected by Governor Ivey as an honorable mention to receive a $500 grant,” Walker said.

Walker said the service learning project is an active and experiential learning strategy where students have a direct impact on an identified need that interests and motivates them.

Each SLP involves all cadets; however, five cadets are assigned to positions that require active participation and structured teamwork. The five active positions are the facilitator, the recorder, the reporter, the timekeeper, and the de-briefer.

To determine a vital service, the team must choose a service activity that addresses a real and critical need in the community.

The activity must be engaging, challenging, and must connect the cadets to others within the community.

According to Walker, these projects challenge cadets to develop new skills and have a positive effect on others.

The JROTC project entailed gathering and providing supplies and items listed on the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center wish list.

Walkers said the cadets worked closely with Mr. Kelley Moses and determined that in addition to soliciting donations and collecting supplies, the cadets could also help out at the first ping pong tournament in support of the CAC.

“We utilized funds from our $500 grant to help sponsor the tournament, purchased and ran the concession stand,” Walker said.

In addition to purchasing ping pong paddles and balls, the cadets also helped set up the event, and some of them participated in the tournament.

Walker said the cadets gathered over $300 in cash donations, purchased several high-dollar items such as booster chairs, forehead thermometers, dining room chairs, and a toaster oven.

The cadets also received donations of bottled water, boxes of copier paper, and more than 570 items that included cleaning supplies, diapers, baby wipes, and small toys.

“I am always a little surprised by the generosity and hard work of our cadets as they work together to serve our community,” Walker said.

Walker said the cadets would like to thank the individuals, high school classmates, and the community businesses that contributed to making the project a success.

Walker said the CAC and The Gathering Place provide a vital service to families and children in need, and they show great love in the performance of their duties.

“SFC Joseph Maks and I are extremely proud of our cadets, and we look forward to continuing our support of the great folks over at the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center,” Walker said. “We are happy that we can help.”

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