GREENVILLE, N.C. -- Red, white and blue banners streamed across the ceiling of the Pitt County's school cafeteria. The area where more than 900 students gather for meals, assemblies and after-hour activities was completely empty, but the staff was hard at work in the kitchen preparing a breakfast for students and their special guests.
More than 25 Marines and sailors with the Cherry Point Single Marine Program talked with students at the Chicod School in Greenville, N.C., March 7, 2014 during a National School Breakfast Week event. The service members visited students ranging from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade.
Sitting in rows of red, white and blue covered tables, the Marines and sailors ate with students and shared information about the Marine Corps and Cherry Point. The service members emphasized the importance of healthy living and community involvement, according to Cpl. Christina A. Kelly, an advanced consolidated automatic support system technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14.
“It was great being able to spend time with the kids, to talk to them and just be there,” said Kelly. “I really enjoyed it.”
As the school honored the Marines and their service to the community, the Marines interaction with the students positively influenced both the staff and the students at the school.
“When the younger kids walked around giving everyone high-fives, it brought a lot of smiles to their faces and ours,” said Kelly.
Participating in the event allowed the Marines to show the community a positive representation of Cherry Point and of Marines in general, according to Kelly.
Chicod School invited the Marines to assist with the event because of their service to the country. The staff members wanted to acknowledge the Marines' hard work and dedication to duty.
“The kids wanted to meet military members, and the first thing that popped into my mind was Cherry Point,” said Marie W. Floyd, the event coordinator for National School Breakfast Week at Chicod School. “I said, 'I have to get Marines because you all are our heroes.' We want [the Marines] to be recognized, too.”
The Marines presence and actions inspired everyone at the school, according to Floyd.
"Their actions touched each child and it was evident," said Floyd. "The way the children smiled and acted once they saw the Marines was overwhelming."
The school plans to invite the Marines back in the future, according to Floyd. She thanked the Marines for their professionalism and commitment to the students and the community.
"It’s an honor to have (the Marines) here and my kids enjoyed meeting them,” said Floyd.