Sgt. Deravious Williams knows just how ingrained Fort Stewart and its soldiers are in the Hinesville community.
The Hinesville native, and current member of the 3rd Infantry Division based at Fort Stewart, was one of dozens of soldiers who lined up to deliver Christmas to families in need Wednesday morning.
With help from the 3rd Sustainment Brigade and the Army Field Support Battalion, the Liberty County Board of Education provided Christmas gifts and more to families in need.
“This is home for me,” said Sgt. Williams, a 2016 graduate of Bradwell Institute who is assigned to the 90th Human Resources Company of the Special Troops Battalion.
When his chain of command told the soldiers about the effort, Sgt. Williams couldn’t wait to volunteer.
“I’m giving back to the community I was a part of,” he said. “Now I’m serving my community as a service member, so they support us and I wanted to support them. I had to jump at the opportunity.”
Thirty-four soldiers from the brigade bought gifts for 29 families. Families are chosen through the school system’s social workers and the families often are going through a housing crisis, such as living in motels, shelters or with other families.
“I saw kids in need when I was growing up,” Sgt. Williams said. “So I know how rough it is. Handing out gifts and seeing the smiles on their faces, who wouldn’t want to do that. It means a lot.”
The bond between Fort Stewart and its surrounding civilian communities is the stuff of lore and legend around the Army. As the communities lend their support to their soldiers and their families, soldiers are eager to return the favor, especially to community members who might not have a Christmas without that assistance.
“A lot of our soldiers came from the community or they have children in the Liberty County School System,” said Col. David Key, commander of the 3rd Sustainment Brigade. “The opportunity to give back to the community and see the looks on the families’ and children’s faces, as they receive the gifts, I don’t know that you can put in words. But the feeling you get in your heart, when you have that opportunity, that’s what the soldiers look forward to.”
Wednesday’s event was the fourth year the unit has partnered with the school system to provide Christmas gifts and food to those in need.
“When you drive into Coastal Georgia and you’re coming into the installation, you can see signs welcoming you in,” Col. Key said. ‘We spend a lot of time with the community. And we’re welcomed in the community. The people of Coastal Georgia are very happy to have us here and partner with us as we go out and do things like this.”
As a younger man growing up in Hinesville, Sgt. Williams loved getting new video games. There still may be a love for video games, but the noncommissioned officer has a daughter.
“I focus on keeping her happy,” he said. “My mindset has totally changed now.”