ARLINGTON, Va. --
For almost 30 years the Single Marine Program at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, has volunteered for the Tutors and Buddies program at Barcroft Elementary School in Arlington, Va.,
Every year from September to June, the volunteers go to the school on Tuesdays to “give the students a little more individualized attention,” said Michael Flaherty, the school liaison for the Tutors and Buddies program.
The SMP is a program that offers volunteer opportunities to single Marines, as well as schedule trips and social gatherings in common areas on base.
When the volunteers go to the school they meet up with a group of fifth graders to play math games, read books, promote good health and exercise by going outside and running around the track with the children.
“I like when they come and help with math. It’s fun,” said Alassane Thiouf, a fifth grader at the school.
Christianne Witten, a volunteer with the Tutors and Buddies program at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Va. said, “every time we go, we are there to reinforce their reading and math skills,”
The program gives the children a good role model, and having a good role model can keep these kids off the street, said Lance Cpl. Mornic Davis, a distribution management specialist at Headquarters Marine Corps.
Once a year, the Tutors and Buddies go to the elementary school to carve pumpkins with the third graders. Cpl. Shannon Pulver, a distribution management specialist at Headquarters Marine Corps, said she is very excited to carve pumpkins with the kids.
“This is the second year I’ve done the pumpkin carving, and it is always a lot of fun,” said Master Sgt. Wendy Andrews from consolidated administration at Headquarters Marine Corps.
In 1991, President George H. W. Bush honored the program as the 400th daily “point of light,” a title awarded to individuals and volunteer groups whose work meets the critical needs in their community. The title was presented as an award to the tutors and buddies by Bush at Barcroft Elementary School.
“It has been fun to come down here and work with the kids,” said retired 1st Lt. Lawrence G. Ward. “You start to develop a good rapport with them because you see the kids from the beginning of the year until the end. The kids actually start looking for you when you come in.”
Witten said last year the children were brought on base for Earth Day to plant flowers around the exchange. The children also dug up a time capsule and buried their own.
The children love interacting with Marines, and it makes the children see that the Marine Corps isn’t just a fighting force, but also helps at home, she added.
Pulver said she enjoys helping the kids with the pumpkin carving because it puts a smile on the children’s faces.
“The Marines are cool – they are really cool,” said Sowrav Barua, a third grader at the school.
The Marines who volunteer at the school say they enjoy volunteering because it feels good to give back to the community. They added it is also a good feeling to know the children get excited when the Marines are coming.