MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Combat Center Marines read to students at Friendly Hills Elementary School, March 2, 2015 in support of the Read Across America celebratory read-a-thon.
“Friendly Hills is one of Headquarters Battalion’s adopted schools,” said Navy Lt. Donald A. Baker, Protestant Chapel Programs Director, native of Miami, Fla. “Our affiliation began in September when we were trying to determine how we could get involved in the different events the faculty does here at the school.”
RAA is an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association and part of the project is national RAA day, which is also Dr. Seuss’ birthday. In an effort to promote literacy among the students, the school invited Headquarters Battalion Marines for an opportunity to participate in a read-a-thon.
“Having community involvement alongside military members [builds] a connection with the kids,” said Jennifer Sands, principal, Friendly Hills Elementary School. “I definitely think it’s important. Some students have family members in the military and some don’t. I think any opportunity for kids to see Marines outside of their perception is really nice.”
Approximately eight Marines participated in the school’s read-a-thon. They split the reading up into 30-minute sessions and read to children ages 5 through 12.
“I appreciate the Marines being here and volunteering to read with the children,” Sands said. “It’s very important to the students in our school and our community.”
The Combat Center plays an active role in volunteer efforts in the local area and events like this help strengthen the positive relationship between the Morongo Basin community and the installation.
“I think it’s a win-win situation because Marines can get stuck in their day-to-day activities and not realize that they’re actually serving a [purpose],” Baker said. “When you bring the Marines out here they get to see the people they’re protecting.”