JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ, UNITED STATES
Joint base families brought their children to the Blue Star Families’ Appreciating Military Kids, Appreciating the Earth event April 27, 2013, at the Librar-e and Resource Commons here.
The Books on Bases program incorporated raising awareness for both the Month of the Military Child and Earth Day. Children traveled through different stations earning stars to go toward a free book once they earned enough. One of the books contained a ticket for a free e-reader.
“The main goal of the event was to raise awareness for the Month of the Military Child,” said Marianne Fontillas, Blue Star Families New Jersey chapter director. “We also aimed to promote literacy among military children, which is statistically lower than their civilian equivalents according to our survey.”
The event began with a book reading. Maria Cirillo, Wolfbooks author and illustrator, read one of her works to the children while interacting with them.
“I enjoyed seeing the children interacting during story time,” said Amada Espinoza, Military and Family Support Center community consultant. “Volunteering was the least I could do to make an influence in the children’s educational needs.”
The children split apart after the first event and roamed the building with their parents, traveling from one station to the next. The stations included: story time, a Wolfbooks stand, a volunteer dressed as a dragon, therapeutic dogs, letters of appreciation, USO, face painting, arts and crafts and a book giveaway.
“We are a small team so we contacted other organizations to aid us with the event,” said Fontillas. “The Librar-e and Resource Commons, AutoTrader, New Jersey Elks Army of Hope and the USO were extremely helpful contributing to the experience for the children.”
Many local organizations contributed to the event and the children. Elks Army of Hope donated $25 gift cards for each of the 100 children. AutoTrader provided drawstring bags and letters of appreciation for the children. Brighten Beautiful Therapy Dogs brought several therapy dogs for the children to interact with.
The sponsors were not the only volunteers however.
The majority of volunteers were service members and military spouses. Staff Sgt. James Archebelle, 87th Civil Engineer Squadron Emergency Management journeyman originally from Festus, Mo., dressed as the dragon to socialize and have photos taken with children.
There are 35,000 members across the country in support of Blue Star Families’ goal. The directors promise to continue to host events involving military families and children, said Fontillas.
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This work, Blue Star Families celebrate military children, Earth Day, by A1C Sean Crowe, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.