CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
With the Marine Corps Birthday Ball approaching, Marines’ family members have started working on the big question: What am I going to wear? The family readiness officers of 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, took it upon themselves to help answer that question.
The FROs of 5th Marines and several volunteers hosted a ball gown giveaway aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Aug. 22, 2015.
The major subordinate elements of 1st Marine Division are sponsored by cities throughout the Camp Pendleton area. These cities, including Costa Mesa, Rancho Santa Margherita and Dana Point helped reach out to the communities to collect donations for the event.
“We got an astounding amount of donations,” said Jaime Farrell, the FRO for 2nd Bn., 5th Marines. “I believe we have about 2,000 dresses and accessories.”
Farrell added that, since they had more dresses than they could give away, they opened the event to include not only the families of 5th Marines, but all families living on the northern end of the base.
“What we don’t use we will pass to another unit or organization that has a ball gown swap,” said Farrell. “It will just keep getting paid forward so that other units can take advantage of it.”
More than 150 people came to the event to claim a gown, but what surprised many in attendance was the number of volunteers who came to help.
“We have a lot more volunteers than we anticipated. I think we have about 30 right now,” said Farrell. “We have a lot of spouses, but we also have people from our adoptive cities, a couple of Marines, and even our battalion Marine and family life counselor is volunteering today.”
The volunteers handled everything from signing people in and directing crowds, to organizing and rehanging dresses.
“Each one of the volunteers could be doing something else with their weekend, but we choose to be here to help the other spouses,” said Ana Davie, wife of Sgt. Robert Davie, an embarker with 2nd Bn., 5th Marines, who volunteered her time for the event.
Davie explained that the event was a convenient tool for families preparing for the Marine Corps birthday ball, but for many it represented a much more important opportunity.
“These events don’t just offer free ball gowns, they offer a sense of community,” said Davie. “Camp Pendleton is huge, and you can get lost in the sea of fishes, but when you come to these events you feel connected again.”
Events like the ball gown giveaway remind Marines and their families that there are many tools available to keep them united with their fellow service members and prepare them for whatever challenges lie ahead.