MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducts a wide range of operations to fulfill the mission of the Marine Corps. Sometimes these responsibilities lie outside the field of battle and diplomacy, and instead focus on the needs of their local community.
The MEU is sponsoring Swansboro Elementary School, which involves volunteers helping with math, reading, art and a variety of other classes.
U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Wayne Hall, 26th MEU chaplain, arranged the unit’s connection with the school and encouraged volunteer involvement.
“Many kids out in the community may not be aware what Marines and sailors do,” said Hall. “We want to show them.”
Hall said volunteering is beneficial to both MEU personnel and Swansboro Elementary School students.
“It’s professionally and personally rewarding,” said Hall. “Getting out and helping a child learn how to read is pretty cool.”
Volunteers help teachers meet their goals for each student and help provide one-on-one tutoring.
“The school staff is positive, and the volunteers help them focus on their objectives,” said Hall.
Hall said the relationship between the school and the MEU is meant to be long lasting and continue to benefit and reward both parties.
Those who volunteered expressed joy after assisting in classrooms and working with students.
“The best part of volunteering is exercising selflessness … with only the reward of seeing kids, in a variety of situations, having fun learning,” said Sgt. Matthew Davies, 26th MEU radio supervisor.
Volunteers commit their own leisure time and efforts to get involved with the school. They go through an orientation, are fingerprinted and undergo full background checks. Marines and sailors are not required to volunteer, but are encouraged.
“I volunteered because I feel it is important for adults to play a role in their community,” said Davies. “I like having a role in the development of our youth, and I feel it benefits the MEU by telling our community that Marines are more than just war fighters.”
The interaction between the MEU and the school was defined to fit into the MEU mission by Chaplain Hall.
“Our mission is to go out into the world and represent the Marine Corps,” said Hall. “We’re going out and doing just that – having a positive impact on the world and our local community.”