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Airmen offer helping hand during the United Way Day of Caring

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman Johnathan McCarty, a weapons loader assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, cleans out a storage unit during the United Way Day of Caring in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 7, 2017. Ellsworth Airmen have been participating in the event since 2001. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

A group of Airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., assist local residents by cleaning out a storage unit during the United Way Day of Caring in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 7, 2017. The relationship Ellsworth has with its community is directly affected by the effort that Airmen put towards the different volunteer opportunities, such as participating in different highway cleanup events and the Summer Nights set up during the warmer months, in and around the Black Hills area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Dustin Blaha, the assistant principal at Southwest Middle School, builds stepping stones during the United Way Day of Caring in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 7, 2017. More than 1,000 participants helped with 31 different events ranging from cleaning abandoned storage units to art projects with special needs children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Rosellen Reese, the Rapid City United Way administrative assistant, speaks to the volunteers about the significance of United Way Day of Caring and what it will mean to the community in Rapid City, S.D., Sept. 7, 2017. The event was created in 1999 and sees more than 1,000 participants each year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

Volunteering doesn’t always mean cleaning a section of highway every few months. It’s about giving back. For Ellsworth, this belief is showcased by its Airmen helping to improve the Black Hills community whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The United Way Day of Caring is one such opportunity and more than 200 Airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, participated in the event in Rapid City, South Dakota, Sept. 7, 2017.

“This event shows the character of the Airmen,” said Airman Johnathan McCarty, a weapons loader assigned to the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. “It shows that we give back to the community, and shows the [Black Hills] that we are there for them.”

This event helps give back by doing projects such as landscaping, running food banks, and helping with minor construction. Each project had Airmen and Black Hills residents working together to give a helping hand.

“Our community always comes to help those in need,” said Rosellen Reese, the Rapid City United Way administrative assistant. “Wherever you look, there is some group ready and willing to help, regardless of what project needs to be done.”

Participating Airmen and other volunteers from the area met at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City and dispersed to their different projects for six hours.

“We always help,” McCarty said. “Regardless if it is a hurricane in Houston, Texas, or this event, we always are going to be there to help. The community should know that [Ellsworth] is always there for them, regardless of what they go through.”

There were 31 different projects that Airmen participated in including cleaning abandoned storage containers, packing food at food banks, and demolishing gazeboes. All of these events demonstrated the amount of effort Airmen put into the local region.

“Ellsworth does make a difference,” Reese said. She went on to explain that the base offers tremendous support because of the sheer number of Airmen who are interested in helping.

There were more than 1,000 participants, with approximately one-fifth coming from Ellsworth. Airmen from the base here have been participating in this event since 2001.

“Without the help of Ellsworth, we wouldn’t have been able to do every single project,” Reese said.

Community involvement is key to how an area’s civil-military relation is viewed. Assisting the Black Hills area is one of the main factors to why Ellsworth has strong support throughout western South Dakota.

Anywhere, every time: Ellsworth supports their community.