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Marines, Sailors Volunteer at local school

By Lance Cpl. Michael R. Whitnel | | April 27, 2007

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Service members of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma helped host a track and field event Friday at H.L. Suverkrup Elementary School.


Entering the school, the Marines and sailors brightened their eyes and attitudes, bringing ‘esprit de corps’ and a friendly energy.


A ceremony kicked off the event at 9 a.m. The school choir preformed the song “Soldier” from the “We Were Soldiers” sound track, which they dedicated to the service members who volunteered.


Then the school presented the American Flag and the Arizona State Flag and thanked the service members for their service to the country and the community of Yuma.


The track meet included a 50-yard dash, relays, long jump, shot-put and a tug of war event. The Marines and sailors ran the event with the supervision of the teachers.


The one-on-one interaction the service members gave the children was just what the school had hoped for when they invited them to help, said Mary J. Zach, teacher and monthly volunteer in the catholic choir on the station.


“I love being here, I love coming out and having a good time volunteering with kids. There isn’t a better feeling in the world,” said Pvt. Scott R. Harrop, a volunteer at the event.


After going to a Single Marine Program meeting and hearing about the event, Harrop asked a SMP representative to e-mail his supervisor, and he was given the day off.


“Both the Marines Corps and my shop have been nothing but supportive of my volunteer efforts,” said Harrop. After a long morning, the Marines and sailors joined the students for lunch in the cafeteria. After lunch, the games resumed and the Marines and sailors continued with the same energy and passion as when they first arrived.


“I think it’s spectacular that the Marines have come out to support the community, and it’s a great chance for the kids to see great role models,” said Zach.


The school is very appreciative of the service members on the station for what they do for the community and overseas. Constant reminders were heard and seen around school, especially during the morning announcements, she added.


Hilary A. Nash, fourth-grade teacher and five year veteran of the annual track event, was ecstatic about the turnout.


“Today has been the most productive year ever in my time here. This is not the best year in numbers, but it is by far the best in how much the (service members) have interacted with the children and they made it fun for them,” she said excitedly.


Later, the students became comfortable around the Marines and sailors and began to look up to them more, paying attention and absorbing everything they did like a sponge.


Arnold V. Alaniz, a sixth grade student, said, “It’s very cool the Marines came. It would be boring without (the sailors and Marines, they) make it exciting.”


After every student had the chance to participate in every event, a tug of war competition between the second-grade students and their teachers versus the volunteers was held in the school courtyard.


In round one, the service members won but the second-graders came back to tie the event with a win in the second round.


After the tug of war competition, the MCAS Yuma Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting unit sprayed the students from a concealed location on the other side of the building.


“I wish I could thank all of them for coming,” said Alex Jones, a sixth-grade student. “They made my day.”


Thanks were given verbally, in hugs and handshakes. However, the best part of the day was when the Marines and sailors realized that, for even in the short time they had with students, they impacted their lives for the better, said Zach.


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