Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
In its 60 years here, the Combat Center has become an integral part of the high desert community. Combat Center Marines volunteer their time with a countless number of community events year-round, reaching out as far as Palm Springs.
A few of the projects Combat Center personnel volunteer their time for are environmental clean-up, education programs and commmunity ceremonies.
Local clean-up projects are one way the Corps gets involved in the community to help keep the local environment intact. Marines with the Combat Center’s Wounded Warrior detachment volunteer in the community once a week, working with different national and local organizations.
“It gives Marines a chance to give back to the community,” said Cpl. Norman Robinson, WWBn. West, during a clean-up project at the Big Morongo Valley Preserve in June. “The United States supports Marines and this is how we show we appreciate it.”
Around the high desert area, Marines take on mentorship roles serving as positive role models for kids with multiple programs partnering with local elementary schools.
The Adopt-a-School program is an ongoing year-round program that introduces kids from local elementary schools to the Combat Center. Marines from the Combat Center visit children at their schools to play with them and be a positive influence to the students year-round.
In addition to Adopt-a-School, dog handlers with the Combat Center’s Provost Marshal’s Office conducted multiple canine demonstrations for the schools’ Red Ribbon Week in October, an entire week dedicated to encouraging kids to live a drug-free life.
Marines with the K-9 unit were committed to helping the schools in their cause last year and traveled to multiple schools every day of Red Ribbon Week to demonstrate the capabilities of their furry companions. Every demonstration left kids with their jaws dropped as they watched the canines in action.
Marines aboard the Combat Center also take part in holiday community services, some involving nation-wide programs. In October, 4th Tank Battalion started their annual collection of toys for the Toys for Tots Program. The program first started in 1947 a purpose to spread the Christmas cheer to underprivileged kids around the nation.
“When you were a kid and you got a toy, man that was the best thing,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Jose Saenz, hospital corpsman, 4th Tanks, during a toy collection from a Toys R’ Us in Palm Springs in November. “Just imagine a little kid that’s not going to get a toy.”
The Marines showed their support again when tragedy struck a nation. They watched over the candle-light vigil held at Oasis Elementary School Dec. 14 dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Conn. They lit six purple candles and 20 white candles for 20 children who lost their lives that day and the six adults protecting them.
“It's probably the most devastating loss someone can suffer, the loss of a child, but the way that these kids died was beyond tragic,” said Kimberly Savell, who coordinated the event in December. “The Marines being out here really shows the importance of doing things like this.”