News: Military families paint the day away
Story by Pfc. Nikki Phongsisattanak
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Christmas is right around the corner. People will end up spending an endless amount of hours and dollars searching for the perfect gift, but there are alternatives to gift ideas that can save money and encompass the thought that counts.
Many service members and their families have found resources to aide with Christmas accommodations on military installations.
One resourceful place patrons found was at the Armed Services YMCA, where the families were able to partake in the ASYMCA’s Paint the Day Away event aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s Tarawa Terrace base housing area, Dec. 9.
“Mommy, I want to paint,” said a military child who led her mother into the ASYMCA.
Children hurried into the ASYMCA with a glow of excitement in their widened eyes. They paced around with their chins held high, curiously looking over their noses as their parents helped gather ceramics, brushes and paint.
“I like seeing the kids be creative, but I enjoy seeing the smiles on their faces even more,” said Barbara Robinson, the program director with ASYMCA.
There were ceramic pots, snowflakes, angels and much more, and the youngsters tried their best to keep their brushes on their crafts. Luckily, the designated painting areas kept the building from looking like a home renovation project.
“All kids like to color, whether it’s on their fingers or the ceramics,” said Robinson. “The parents love that we offer crafting events here, that way they don’t mess up their own homes while the kids are painting.”
In addition to keeps one’s home clean while entertaining the children, many of the programs offered at the ASYMCA are either free or very affordable.
“This is a fun event,” said Jessica Morrow, a military spouse who participated in the event. “I’m always searching for things to do, and this (event) is cost efficient.”
Denise Cordova, the assistant program director with ASYMCA, said there is usually a good turnout for the ceramics activities. She said it’s fun watching the children design their own masterpieces.
This event was new to some patrons, and it was also a way to expose them to other programs that the ASYMCA offers.
“This was the first (ASYMCA) event that I’ve been to,” said Karen Range, a military spouse who participated in the event. “I was walking around and I saw one of their fliers and stopped in to check it out. It’s great that they have something like this for the kids, and I’m curious about what other programs they have.”
The ASMYCA seemed to be hidden and unknown to the patrons aboard MCB Camp Lejeune. But their programs are becoming more popular as news of their programs spread. In May of this year, they started a Facebook fan page that had a count of just more than 100 fans recorded two weeks ago. Now, the count is just about to reach 200, according Cordova.
“There are a lot of new families coming to our events and we’re happy to have their support,” said Cordova. “We’re happy to be able to give back to the (military) families. It gives you a warm feeling being able to help out.”
Patrons were able to save money, offer a fun activity for their children and create gifts to put under the tree.
“The children will bring their projects home to wrap them up, and Grandma and Grandpa are going to have something hand-crafted from the kids this Christmas,” said Cordova.
For more information on Armed Services YMCA, call 450-0497 or visit lejeuneasymca.org