DOVER — Dover Air Force Base airmen not only are passionate about protecting and serving the United States, but also want to make a difference in the communities where they are deployed through volunteering.
For military members, volunteering helps strengthen the relationship between the military and civilian communities.
A relationship of mutual support is a critical part of being airmen, said 2nd Lt. Alannah M. Staver, deputy chief of public affairs for DAFB.
“Volunteering is an important part of being airmen,” she said. “We like to be able to give back to the community any way that we can. That’s really important to us.
“We try to volunteer any chance that we get. Each opportunity that is presented to us, we try to jump on it as soon as we can.”
Lorraine Dion, Kent County Tourism director of public relations and special events, appreciates that can-do spirit.
The airmen often help with events.
“They help us any chance that they get,” Ms. Dion said. “The number of hours and volunteers has increased over the years. In 2012, about 68 volunteers came out and helped us, but during last year’s Amish Country Bike Tour that number increased to 150.
“The bike tour generated $494,000. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to raise that kind of money. It just wouldn’t have happened.”
Being a prominent figure in the community is what the airmen pride themselves on, said Lt. Starver said.
“DAFB is not in the middle of nowhere,” Lt. Starver said. “We fall in the heart of the city in a sense. We want to pay respect to our community, as we realize that we have an impact when we go out to these events helping out.”
Ms. Dion said the airmen genuinely appreciate helping.
“They very dependable,” Ms. Dion said. “I remember when we had the Wine and Beer Festival (in the fall), the weather was terrible. I remember telling myself that no one is going to be there.
“But when I got there, all of the 18 volunteers that signed up was there in the rain in their ponchos helping out.
“I remember them saying that when we give our word, we’re going to be here,” Ms. Dion added. “It was a tremendous feeling.
“Even with the other events, they bring their families with them and they’re always very helpful.”
The airmen are looking forward to helping out during Dover Days weekend in May.
“It’s an honor for us to help out,” Lt. Starver said. “About 50,000 people are going to be in attendance, as we always help with the event. It should be fun.”
Ms. Dion said 180 DAFB volunteers have signed up already.
“It’s a great partnership that we have,” Ms. Dion said. “They do so much for us. They’re very supportive and it just makes us have a greater appreciation for them.”
Speaking for the airmen, Lt. Starver said they never get tired of helping out in the community when needed.
“We love the support that we get from the community,” she said. “We take it very serious and always try to find time to support them when requested.
“We’re really tied in the community and we’re trying maintain that great relationship that we have with them.”