Photo Information

Pfc. Justin Tullock reads, "There's a Wocket in my Pocket!," by Dr. Seuss to children of hospital staff at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York. Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 read books to children there Nov. 6, 2009. The Marines are in New York to support the commissioning of USS New York.

Photo by Courtesy of Charles E. Manley, Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York

Marines visit nursery school children

8 Nov 2009 | Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde

Nursery school children filed into the Wintergarden, an auditorium at the New York-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital Nov. 5 in New York City, eager to interact with several Marines from Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 26 at the event to read stories to the youth.

            Lt. Col. Walter C. Sopp, executive officer for SPMAGTF-26, donated a duffel bag full of books to the hospital for children at the oncology and outpatient primary care clinics at the hospital, according to Moria Balseca, the hospital events coordinator.

            Sopp read to children at the event, as did Maj. Len E. Walker, and Pfc. Justin Tullock both with SPMAGTF-26. The children, who were from the Medical Center Nursery School, were the sons and daughters of employees at the hospital and had the opportunity to ask and answer questions from the Marines who told them a little about themselves.

            “My favorite color is blue! Who likes blue?” asked an enthusiastic corporal to which many of the kids shot their hands in the air.

            “There is nothing better than to see the kids’ faces light up and to realize that it’s really all about them,” said Balseca.

            In the wake of the New York Yankees World Series Championship the night before, many children were excited to talk about their hometown team and their favorite ballplayers.

            “I like Derek Jeter,” said Jonah, a student at the school. “He’s really, really fast!”

            The youth also enjoyed the presence of Clifford the Big Red Dog, who made an appearance at the event. The children hugged and took photos with the mascot.

            Overall, Balseca felt that the children had a great time.

            “It was very successful,” she said, “You can tell by the looks on the kids’ faces. They took it all in. They enjoyed it.”

            Balseca said the Marines of SPMAGTF-26 did a great job.

            “I thought that they were amazing!” she said. “They knew how to deal with the kids on their level. They were funny. They were interactive. They weren’t afraid to make fun of themselves for the sake of getting a smile out of our kids.”

            Tullock also felt that the Marines did a good job of representing the Marine Corps.

            “I felt like a role model, like they were looking up to me,” he said.