Thirty Marines from Fort Meade’s Marine Cryptologic Support Battalion spent a better part of their Friday volunteering just a few miles down Route 175 at Jessup Elementary School.
The Marines were there as part of Fort Meade’s Partners in Education program, which links service members with volunteer opportunities at local schools.
The Marines helped stage an end-of-school field day for about 500 elementary school students.
“They’ve [MCSB] been coming here for five or six years,” said John Shebel, the physical education teacher at Jessup Elementary and field day organizer. “We usually get 25 to 30 Marines each year. We couldn’t do this [field day] without them.
“They come out and support us with making water balloons, running our stations, officiating events.”
Events included traditional field day events with games and contests set up in the gym, the blacktop and the field.
But the Marines didn’t just play observer. They staged a Marine Corps martial arts demonstration and a modified combat fitness test.
“It’s for the kids to get an idea of what the Marine Corps is about, but also to make it fun for them,” Lance Cpl. Cassandra Miller said. “At first they might feel a little shy, but once they see we’re normal people just like them, they have fun with us.”
“The kids love having them here, and I think the Marines like coming too,” he said.
As for the Marines, they really seemed to have fun at the water balloon station with dozens of youngsters looking to get soaked.
“It’s actually really awesome,” Miller said. “It’s a really good opportunity to come out and play with the kids and have some fun.
“I’m actually a mom. I love little kids and I like to be active and just have fun with the kids.”
Taking time out to volunteer isn’t just a good way to give back to the community and the schools, but to show what the Marines are all about.
“It’s always a rewarding opportunity when you are invited by your community to support an event,” Capt. John Lindberg said. “For many of the Marines, it’s a chance for them to share with the community some of the things which make Marines unique.”
Lindberg said Friday’s field day event was a rewarding and memorable experience for the children and the Marine Corps volunteers alike.
For many of the young Marines such as Miller, field day was the first opportunity to participate in a Partner in Education event.
But they’ll get another one, next year at Jessup Elementary.