MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Live music, the smell of barbecue on the grill, children playing in the splash pool, and a dash of sunshine; the ingredients for an idyllic summer day came together at the Joshua Tree Summer Splash event at the Joshua Tree Community Center, Aug. 22, 2015.
Marine volunteers from the Combat Center assisted in the setup of the event, directed families toward free parking, and held an explosive ordnance display. Sgt. Robert Bouchard and Sgt. Alex Strait, explosive ordnance disposal technicians, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, G-3 Operations and Training, provided demonstrations of ground robotics systems, the Mark I Packbot and the Mark II Talon, used in their work.
“They are awesome and everyone loves the Marines, so we try to include them in everything we do,” said Linda Sande, president, Joshua Tree Rotary Foundation. “They are a part of this community and we want them to feel welcome.”
This year was the third Summer Splash fundraiser held by the Joshua Tree Rotary Club. The event raised money for Morongo Basin schools by selling barbecue, drinks and snow cones as well as games and a dunk tank.
“The money that we make goes toward high school scholarships and leadership camps for 7th graders and high school juniors,” Sande said. “Anything that is left over goes to community service events. The fundraiser also helps bring the community together for a family fun event.”
Many of the events held throughout the day included; a car show, a line dancing session, and a medical helicopter landing. Children also enjoyed face painting, a variety of games and a water park.
“We wanted it to be a family friendly event so there is something for just about everyone,” Sande said.
The Provost Marshal’s Office’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education Lion, Daren, made an appearance and posed for photos with children. Cpl. Michael Hernandez, military policeman, Headquarters Battalion, volunteered to be Daren for the event and enjoyed interacting with the children and representing the Combat Center in the community.
“It’s often different volunteers in the suit, but I enjoy being out here interacting with the community,” Hernandez said. “The best part is being out here with the kids and seeing their faces when they see the suit. I think it’s important to show the community we want to be involved.”
Many of the Marines volunteering for the event said they felt it was time well spent.
“Volunteering is great because we can get outside of the barracks and interact with local people,” said Pfc. George Florea, student, Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School. “As Marines, we’re part of the community, so it’s important to participate.”