NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- Through the chaos of children and young adolescents trampling the ground at the Boys and Girls Club of Newport News, Sailors were hard at work clearing the leaves of their beloved, moderately forested playground and common areas on July 31.
Coordinated by the Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD), volunteers from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) were armed with rake and hoe to clean up around this hot spot for children of all ages to congregate during community relations (COMREL) event.
"We're mostly just raking up leaves and cleaning up the area," said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Kate Phillips. "It looks it hasn't been done in a couple of years so we are cleaning it up, bagging it up and taking it out of here."
Phillips frequents the list of volunteers from GW's wide array of COMREL events and believes in the efforts to her core.
"I love volunteering because it makes me feel good," said Phillips while wiping away the sweat from her brow. "It's nice to step out from the daily grind of work. It helps me to know that I'm helping whether I am working with animals and helping the workers at a shelter, or here cleaning up and helping out the staff who are busy with the kids. I think it's important to be helpful."
Logistic Specialist 3rd Class Alexandre Brummell believes highly in this particular event because it brings him back to when he walked around in these kids shoes.
"For me, it's all about giving back to the community," said Brummell. "Back in St. Louis, a lot of us were in Boys and Girls Club's ourselves and we would see people come and help out like we are. This is my turn to step up and give back."
COMRELS hold an importance showing the neighborhoods in proximity of a 90,000 ton warship that her occupants are helpful and caring people too.
"I think it's important to show that we are not just a fighting force," said Phillips. "That we do care about our country and our smaller communities. Sometimes military people can come off as intimidating, so I think it's good to show that we are friendly and here to help."
The vitality of the kids seeing people show up and diligently work while they play around also could have a positive and subliminal effect on them.
"We are impacting the kids day," said Brummell. "We got the kids coming up to us asking what we are doing and watching us work, so we see the positive influence in what we are doing."
Seven volunteers participated in this particular COMREL and there is always room for more Sailors to get involved. For Phillips, it's always an opportunity to give back.
"I looked at the weekly emails that CRMD gives out for COMRELS," said Phillips. "I try to volunteer for one or so every two weeks. I also volunteer on my own time on the weekends at Virginia Beach SPCA so I just want to get out there and stay busy."
Sailors interested in volunteering for any future events and COMRELs can contact CRMD or speak with someone in their chain of command for upcoming opportunities.
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