HAVELOCK, N.C., --
Marines and Sailors with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274, visited Arthur W. Edwards Elementary School to read to 2nd and 3rd graders in an effort to improve literacy rates and strengthen the relationship between the squadron and the local community.
“We wanted to do more than just volunteer, we wanted to be able to interact with the students on an academic level, show them we care while helping them improve their literacy skills,” said Lt. Kevin T. Stanley, a chaplain attached to MWSS-274.
The volunteers visit the school every Friday, and teach the students the importance of reading by guiding and encouraging them as they learn to read because “they are the future,” explained Stanley.
Positioned right outside the installation, approximately 85 percent of the students come from a military family or are associated with the military in some way.
“This is important to the students because although their parents may be away, it is reassuring to have a military support system presence at the school to help them cope with their separation,” said Stanley. “Family readiness is extremely important to mission readiness and mission accomplishment. If the children are in a good place emotionally and mentally, it will help the Marines and Sailors be prepared for their missions.”
Volunteering doesn’t just bring joy to the students; the volunteers enjoy seeing smiles on the students face as well, explained Stanley.
Geralyn Gares, a 3rd Grade teacher with the elementary school, believes the Marines and Sailors are good role models for the students and thanks them for dedicating their time to make a difference at the school.
“Community involvement is so important,” said Gares. “A lot of these kids are military kids. Their dads and moms are deployed and it’s kind of a reminder that ‘they care about me; they are coming to read with me even though my mom or dad isn’t here.’ The students look forward to it.”
Gares hopes that the Marines will visit in the future and looks forward to working with them again.
“When the Marines come in they are very positive role models. They are determined to come in and make a difference,” said Gares. “We are grateful for all of the time they have put into helping our students.”