MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- It is an early Saturday morning, and when many people are choosing to sleep in, a handful of Stingers from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 are turning screws as the Lowcountry’s heat and humidity rises with the sun. The Stingers are where they have been every Saturday for the last month and a half, volunteering their time to lend support to the local community and give something back to the one’s who support them.
They are at the Baptist Church of Beaufort, helping to build a playground for the childcare center there.
“When we got here it was just sand and leaves,” said Sgt. Adam Hunter, an aviation electrician with MALS-31, pointing to the finished play set. “All that’s left to do now is pour rubber like you find at running tracks so that the kids don’t hurt themselves.”
Hunter, along with Sgts. Tony Riley, Kevin Boody, Cpl. Guy Jerez, Lance Cpls. Harry Voland, Richard Kinmartin, David Barnes, Jeffery Johnson, Greg Rogers, Jennifer Rogers, and Navy Airman Keith Stanton have contributed to building the playground. All are aviation electricians who work with the Stingers, except Jennifer, who works for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312.
Volunteering isn’t new for this group of Stingers. The Marines recently volunteered to help with the Spring Pet Fling in May, and have also helped at a local school, according to Hunter.
“These guys are always out there volunteering their time,” Hunter said.
For their part, the members of the church were grateful for the time the Stingers have put into their service to the community.
“I think it is a wonderful partnership between the church, the community, and the Marine Corps,” said Eric Spivey, the associate pastor for the church. “We were having a hard time finding volunteers. The Marines found out and came to our rescue.”
The church provided the equipment and the materials and the Stingers provided the manpower, each one contributing around 20 hours of work to the project, according to Hunter.
Between the contractors and the Marines, the playground was finished faster than the church could have hoped, according to Spivey
The members of the Baptist Church of Beaufort were not the only ones to walk away with something.
“It always feels good to help someone,” Jennifer said. “You hear so many bad things it feels good to help people.”
The Marines not only provided a service to the church and the community, but hope to improve the public image of the Marine Corps, according to Hunter.
“It’s good for Marines to get out in the community,” Hunter said. “It gives the Marines a positive image. It’s important to give the people a positive view of the Marines. I personally think more Marines should volunteer their time.”
“I wouldn’t be doing my job as a military member if I hadn’t influenced my community,” Stanton added. “Volunteer work is the best part of my job.”