CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
“Who wants to have some ‘eggciting’ fun?!” Debra Orr, a teacher at Tarawa Terrace I Preschool, asked her students on a sunny April morning.
“I do!” exclaimed one.
“I do!” yelled another... and another... and also said a Marine, who seemed ten-times too big for the little chair he was sitting in.
But he was not the only Marine who towered over the preschoolers that morning. Nineteen other Marines from Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, joined him in volunteering at the Tarawa Terrace PreSchool aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., to help the kids learn in a fun, Easter-themed way during ‘Eggsploring the Day’.
The program, which only lasted a couple of hours, consisted of about 10 different stations with activities like ‘pin the tail on the Easter bunny’, ‘count the jelly beans’, ‘guess which egg is hardboiled’, face painting, cupcake decorating and egg spoon races.
Orr said it was a fun way to invite preschool parents into the classroom to work with their children in exploring a variety of fun activities, while learning something at the same time.
“Seems like play, but each activity actually worked on a different preschool standard,” Orr said. “Without the help of the Marine volunteers, parents would have had to help us run the special centers and would not have been able to participate with their child.”
The Marines not only made it possible for the parents to work with their kids, but they participated as well, making a positive impact on the preschoolers who didn’t have parents there because of deployments.
“The Marine Corps is like one big family and for those children who have parents deployed [they always seem to find comfort when they see another Marine],” Orr explained. “We hear children say "he's just like my daddy!"
These kids need that with the length of time their daddies or mommies are absent. It gives them a sense of family at school, [and] I'm sure they feel as if a part of their daddy or mommy is present when the Marines arrive.”
Lance Cpl. Christopher VanNamen, a radio operator with CLR-25, volunteers to feel connected to his mom, who is a school teacher in his hometown. He said he loves working with kids and it reminds him of why he is a Marine.
“It shows you a different side of being a Marine because we get to help people in different environments [than from what we’re used to],” VanNamen said. “It tells them that we still care about them even though their dads are deployed [because they’re part of our Marine Corps family too].”
Orr said she was very impressed with the way the Marines acted with her preschoolers.
“We love that about Marines - they can be tough when they are at war and still be a shining star to a young child,” she said. “They should be respected and revered for that. I'm grateful to work in this system - it has so much culture and richness because of the Marines and sailors.”
By the end of the day, the kids, some with frosting smeared on their faces and egg dye on their shirts, were tired but happy.