MCINCR-MCBQ Commander Col. Joseph Murray sits in the Hampton Oaks Elementary Library reading the story "Odd Velvet" by Mary E. Whitcomb to first through fifth grade students.
Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA -- Col. Joseph Murray, commander, Marine Corps Installations National Capital Region -Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCINCR-MCBQ) visited 18 first through fifth grade students at Hampton Oaks Elementary School Library Jan. 31 to read the book "Odd Velvet," the story of a strange young girl who proves being different is what makes each person special.
As Murray read the book he talked with the students about all the things they love about school from their favorite subjects and teachers to their favorite activities and foods.
Murray emphasized the differences of each student, making each feel special and appreciated for sharing.
He said he was most surprised at how the students perceived him for his difference, as he described the amazement the students had from seeing real Marines in uniform.
"In the student's eyes we were something big and important," Sgt. Maleek Grandison, commander's aide said. "We were like superheroes."
According to MCBQ School Liaison Keely Ricks, the purpose of this event was to introduce the community to the Marine Corps.
The goal of the school liaison is to improve the communication and interaction and develop community partnerships by coordinating events and providing Marine parents with the tools to overcome obstacles which may affect their children's academic success.
This is done through educating local schools and communities about the needs of military school-aged children and the military lifestyle and providing staff development surrounding military culture, deployments and general information about transition cycles, relocation and support.
"Approximately 80 percent of personnel assigned to Quantico live off base, many whom have children in public schools," Ricks said. "When Marines volunteer in schools, students benefit from learning by example of what honor, courage and commitment truly mean."
Ricks chose Murray for this role because, before his family moved on base, he lived in the neighborhood and all four of his children attended the elementary school.
Murray felt nostalgic walking into the school that gave his family so much and in return he was grateful he had the opportunity to give something back.
"It is important for the Marine Corps to maintain a positive light," Murray said. "A Marine can learn so much from their communities off base about what honor and service mean."
Murray volunteered through the Stafford County Brain Builder Program—a program designed to aid kindergarten through twelfth grade students by giving them the tools to succeed in school and further foster intellectual growth and achievement.
Quantico offers a similar program for Marines to get involved with the education community—the Adopt-A-School program.
The program offers Marines the opportunity to mentor school age children by motivating them to set positive life goals and reduce involvement in negative behaviors such as crime, drugs and violence.
If a unit commander or school representative is interested in participating in the Adopt-A-School program, please call the School Liaison Office at 703-784-4729. For other volunteer opportunities call the Installation Volunteer Coordinator at 703-784-2687 or the MCBQ Community Relations Officer at 703-784-3699.