Fort Polk soldier garners DeRidder Chamber’s ‘Volunteer of the Y - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Fort Polk soldier garners Beauregard Chamber’s ‘Volunteer of the Year’ honor

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Philip Mlynarski, center, receives his honor from Beauregard Chamber officials. (Source: U.S. Army) Philip Mlynarski, center, receives his honor from Beauregard Chamber officials. (Source: U.S. Army)

The following is a story by Staff Sgt. Meillettis Patton/1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade:

A Fort Polk soldier was recently recognized by the Greater Beauregard Chamber of Commerce as the Chamber's "Volunteer of the Year."

Army Sgt. 1st Class Philip Mlynarski, observer controller for Operations Group, Brigade Mission Command, at Fort Polk's Joint Readiness Training Center, won the award for his efforts in bringing Christmas joy to thousands of citizens by creating a light display at his home.

The award was presented Jan. 24 at the Chamber's annual membership banquet.

"I'm on my third year putting on a Christmas light show," said Mlynarski. "Normally, I get 300 to 600 hundred cars a night. It's insane!"

Mlynarski accepts donations for the non-profit Christmas Light Show and every year, he donates the profits to charities in the community. This year, he sent the donations from the light show to the Humane Society of West Louisiana in DeRidder and Grace Church which fed Christmas dinner to the hungry; the First United Pentecostal Church of DeRidder which gave toys to children during Christmas; and the DeRidder Lions Club.

"My 17 years in the military have given me an edge working with different people," said Mlynarski. "I think that's good in a small town (helping people). The greatest joy I get out of the Christmas light show is hearing the excitement of the kids and families, just their shock and awe to the lights. I think, in a way, I'm trying to bring back some of those Christmas values that we seem to have lost, the interaction between families and what the spirit of Christmas is."

It takes the entire year to put the light show together in time for the Christmas holiday, said Mlynarski. He spends hours on wiring and syncing the music and lights together. Even with this huge project, he still finds time to actively participate in the Humane Society, First Pentecostal Church and the Lions Club. He also owns John's Used Cars in DeRidder.

"My father built the Humane Society," said Mlynarski. He pauses as he remembers his father. "He passed away two years ago, and he is my inspiration."

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