MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Hundreds of station Marines, civilian personnel and families attended the 8th Annual Old Fashioned Family Picnic Saturday at Ramada Field and Pavilion here.
Marine Corps Community Services, the Single Marine Program, Semper Fit and volunteers from Marine Aircraft Group-13 and other station squadrons all joined together to put on the event, which was held in conjunction with April's Month of the Military Child and National Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The event featured many rides, games and prizes for both children and adults, most sponsored by Coca-Cola. There was even a comedic magician named Godfrey for entertainment, said Angie Marchman, SMP special events coordinator.
"Coca-Cola bought all the grand prizes, including the boombox, 32-inch TV and the gift certificates, and Karl Moedl also participated with an $800 sponsorship which helped buy the food and a lot of the prizes for the kids," said Marchman.
There were also many Marine and station employees volunteering their services for the event.
"It feels great to help the kids. When I give them their cotton candy, they get these big smiles on their face and it's a good feeling to know you made a kid smile. I definitely don't mind helping out on a Saturday when it's for the kids," said Lance Cpl. Mack Clater, MAG-13 separations, who manned the cotton candy stand with a few fellow Marines.
Staff Sgt. Dan White, station Substance Abuse Counseling Center Director, and Staff Sgt. Timothy Hall, Provost Marshal's Office, who did a lot of hamburger and hot dog grilling Saturday, said they love to cook all the time, but cooking for fellow Marines and their families makes it more rewarding.
Harold Dean, station athletic director, said he figured out the reason why everyone was there to help.
"It's for the kids. All the train rides, games, clowns and volunteers are here so the kids can have a good time," he said. "When you get to see all their smiling faces, it makes you feel good to be doing what you're doing. I think that's why we're all here."
MCCS, SMP and Semper Fit hold many events for single Marines throughout the year, but are also considerate of the many Marines with families here, said Jude Wood, MCCS event coordinator.
"We try to do more stuff for families here and we actually have more stuff for families here than any other base in the Marine Corps," said Wood.
She said the events help strengthen the Corps by strengthening families.
"When the families are happy, the Marines are happy. When families are taken care of, Marines can rest at ease and concentrate on their missions," she said.
Having the event during April helps bring people's attention to issues involving military children's unique lifestyles and child abuse in America, said Gail Perry, family counselor and event coordinator.
"It encourages families to do something positive together and raises awareness about child abuse and some of the issues that military children have to deal with exclusively," she said.
Perry also thinks the event helped promote overall station morale.
"I think these events bring people together. When these parents and kids come out here and spend time together it strengthens their bond with each other," she explained. "The fact that the Marine Corps puts these events on for the families shows them that the Marine Corps cares about them."