As Joey Bautista stood in the chilly morning air surrounded by hundreds of volunteers, his heart warmed.
"This gives me magic feelings," said Bautista, Fort Carson's Army Volunteer Corps manager, Saturday at the post's Iron Horse Park.
Nearly 400 had gathered to rake leaves, paint fences and clean stormwater ditches in honor of Make a Difference Day, a national celebration of volunteerism that's taken place annually for more than two decades.
The unofficial holiday has been celebrated at Fort Carson for nearly as many years.
Saturday's turnout rivaled last year's, likely because of better weather, Bautista said.
Whether it did or not was of no consequence to him. Bautista was more concerned with impact than numbers.
"I don't care how many people come if somebody is making a difference," he said. "This is about getting out of the house and doing something for other people."
Leaves crunched underfoot as children, fists full of foliage, ran toward trash bags to empty their hands.
The Davis girls had been looking forward to Saturday for an entire year.
Last year, their father, Maj. Michael Davis, took 7-year-old Maegan to the event.
The two played in the leaves, cleaned up a creek bed and drank hot chocolate, said Maegan's mother, Jen Davis.
Maegan had a marvelous time and came home raving about the event - so much so that her younger sister, 5-year-old Claire, insisted on attending this year.
The only member of the clan missing this time around was Michael, who is deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion.
Attending the event without Dad was bittersweet, but "things like this keep us busy," Jen Davis said. "That's how we're passing the time."
Nearby, Sgt. Jeremy Ganz held open a hefty black trash bag as his son, Jeremy Ganz II, shoveled leaves into it.
"We like to do our part to help the area look nice," the flight engineer said.
"Especially since he doesn't like to do chores at home," he added with a smirk as he nodded toward his son.