Saturday Event to Celebrate Military Children
The Kiwanis Club of the Sandhills is once again celebrating military families with an event geared to children.
And this year it is enlisting a major television star.
Elmo, the furry red friend of Sesame Street, will be the main guest at the second annual Celebration of the Military Child event from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Pinehurst Arboretum.
“He (Elmo) is going to add so much fun to the event for the children,” said Suzy Carlton, an organizer of this year’s event.
The purpose of the event is to recognize the courage of the military child.
“These children are so special,” said Meg Wilkins, a member of the Kiwanis and media assistant at Crain’s Creek Middle School. “They are forever positive and resilient through frequent moves, new schools and deployments. And they handle everything with grace and dignity.”
According to the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC), a nonprofit organization that advocates preserving the quality of education for military students, a military child moves an average of six to nine times between kindergarten and 12th grade.
The Moore County school system has 1,400 students who have military connections, and that number is expected to continue to grow as the U.S. military realigns its operations and shifts more resources to Fort Bragg.
School officials say the number of children in Moore County public schools fluctuates regularly. Several schools in Moore County have large populations of children with ties to the military, including Crain’s Creek Middle School.
“We are in a location that is so heavily impacted,” Wilkins said. “We literally have new students come in every day.”
The Kiwanis Club plans to work with the MCEC to create a local support system for military families, especially students, who are often forgotten in the dialogue about the impact of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Leading up to Saturday’s celebration, students at Crain’s Creek held a Spirit Week, where children showed their spirit and support for the military.
Saturday’s celebration, which is being co-sponsored by the Pinehurst Parks and Recreation Department, will feature food, games and entertainment.
“This event is a big gift with a bow around it,” Carlton said. “It’s just a fun event. We want the children to go out there and be happy and have a good time.”
It begins at noon with a welcome from guest speaker Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, garrison commander at Fort Bragg.
At 12:15 p.m. the Union Pines Marching Band will perform, followed by the arrival of Elmo.
Lunch will be served at 12:30.
Children’s activities featuring pony rides, a bounce castle, toddler playland slide, climbing wall, video game trailer, football and basketball toss, and visits with Elmo will go until 3 p.m.
The 82nd Airborne Parachute Jump & Chorus teams also will perform.
April is Military Child Month. In March, Crain’s Creek students participated in a poster contest to create the Celebration of the Military Child T-shirt design.
The winners of the contest, Tyler Ness and Paige Newsome, were recognized for their designs at the March 28 Kiwanis meeting. The contest was sponsored by Bill Smith Ford.
Contact Tom Embrey at email@example.com.
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