KILLEEN — Soldiers from the Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers program got out of the barracks and lent a helping hand to the homeless Aug. 29 at the Friends in Crisis Homeless Shelter in Killeen.

The shelter hosted the Homeless Block Party event with the aim of distributing clothes, food and other goods while having fun doing it. Several local churches, sororities and veterans groups participated in the event, according to Sgt. Zachary Smiley, BOSS president for Fort Hood.

Smiley said the Fort Hood BOSS program has a long history of helping the Central Texas community, but this is the first event in a few months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are a lot of restrictions that we have to abide by, but every chance we get, whether it’s with the community, with things on Fort Hood with the kids, virtually anything we can do to help out, we definitely do those things,” Smiley said.

The Soldiers helped set up the event, man tables where goods were being distributed, and tear down and clean up afterward. And the BOSS Soldiers were happy to do something positive in the community.

“We have so many volunteers come out,” Smiley said. “For this event, we were only allowed to have eight volunteers, to make sure we had social distancing. We had about 30 Soldiers sign up wanting to do this event. We have Soldiers that want to get out. That want to help, that want to show that what’s being portrayed is not what’s actually happening all the time and everywhere.”

Spc. Michelle Garnett, a combat medic assigned to 6th Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Division, has participated in BOSS outreach events before, but this was her first event at the Great Place.

“What motivated me is that I know COVID-19 has been happening a lot, and there’s a lot of people without jobs right now, and without anything to do,” Garnett said. “It just made me want to come out here, help them out, and see everything, and participate in the BOSS program to make it more fulfilling for Soldiers.”

Garnett was thrilled to see the local community coming together for a good cause.

“I think it’s really great,” she said. “I think a lot of people came out to volunteer, and that makes me really happy to see all these people. It makes me sad to see so many people – young people – that are homeless right now and that don’t have anything. It just makes me want to volunteer even more.”

She encouraged other Soldiers to check out the BOSS program for themselves.

“Doing things like this helps make the community a little better,” Garnett said. “This could help some people take a step towards homes, towards better things.”