POWAY, Calif. --
The night air vibrated with laughter as marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, helped dozens of children jump into the spirit of giving during a community event in Poway, California, December 10.
The unit fosters a strong relationship with the city, and the holiday event gave them another opportunity to refresh those bonds.
“In 2003, the city of Poway adopted 1st LAR as the battalion they wanted to represent out of the units on Camp Pendleton,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Lefevre, a native of North Brookfield, Massachusetts. “since that time, the city and our unit have worked together to put on various events for local residents and military families.”
During the city-funded event, children were escorted by Marines, firefighters, and police officers, who helped them make purchases with a $100 gift card given to them at the event to purchase gifts for friends and family.
The participants got an opportunity to take a picture with Santa, wrap their presents, build arts and crafts, pick out a free blanket and books, and eat dinner with a group of service members.
Not only were the participating children positively impacted by the event, service members were also afforded an opportunity to serve and give back to their country.
Cpl. Matthew Franzoni, a gunner with 1st LAR, and native of Canton, Illinois said that although he has done plenty of charity work prior to his service in the Marine Corps, there was something special about this event for him.
“Marines are the picture of America and an embodiment of all the values that our country represents,” Franzoni said. “Because of the standards that we are held to, charity work comes naturally. It's things like that that set Marines apart, and i'm proud to be a part of it.”
With the holiday season right around the corner, the event was seen by some attendees as a great way to get into the holiday spirit.
“It made me feel really good to see my son get a chance to spend time with Marines and have a lot of fun with guys that he looks up to,” said Spencer Jeide, a resident of Poway. “it's not every day that you get a chance to spend time with those that serve the country, so I think this meant a lot to my son, and it meant a lot to me as well.”
The experiences the children had and values imparted with them are sure to stay with them long after the holidays come to an end.