Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

September 15, 2017 at 4:02am

McChord residents treated to free food, games

1st Lt. Darryl Holland, middle, of 42nd Military Police Brigade, helps Rylee Gillespie, 6, of JBLM, adjust the spotlight in his patrol car during the McChord Field Housing Block Party at Carter Lake Elementary School Saturday. JBLM PAO photo

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Free food, games, raffles and fellowship were the theme of the day Saturday as a few hundred service members and their families enjoyed the second annual McChord Field Housing Block Party at Carter Lake Elementary School.

Many parents and children walked, rode bicycles, skateboarded or pushed strollers to the neighborhood event aimed at enhanced family readiness, spiritual resiliency and community bonding. The event was sponsored by the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Religious Support Office and the McChord Field Chapel.

“Free food is always good when you’ve got four kids,” said Maj. David Thompson, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, as his children, Simon, 9; Emi, 6; Cece, 8; and Mary, 3, chomped on hotdogs and chips before participating in organized games at the event.

The three older children took turns inside large plastic, inflated Zorb balls, which look much like a hamster ball. Mary stayed close to grandparents, Dave and Lois Thompson, of St. Louis, Mo., who were in town for the week visiting four of their 18 grandchildren.

“It’s nice they have events like this,” Lois said.

The Thompson children are home-schooled, so the block party was a good opportunity for the kids to play and get to know their neighbors.

“I’ve seen seven or eight families from our neighborhood,” David Thompson said.

April Johns and her 7-year-old daughter, Isabella, 10-year-old son, Jack, and husband, Staff Sgt. Trevor Johns, moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in the middle of August.

Johns said her family was a bit stressed moving and getting the kids ready for the start of the school year at Carter Lake Elementary, so the block party offered a way to relax and get to know other military families.

Isabella enjoyed creating crafts at the event, such as a stuffed bear she drew a face for. She added premade eyes and buttons for his shirt before adding his name “Ed” on a small purse, which she also decorated.

“I painted a rock, too, and rode in the plastic ball,” Isabella said, a big smile on her face. “I’m having fun.”

Shelton Griffin, a volunteer with McChord Field Chapel, and his wife, 1st Sgt. Adriana Griffin, 361st Recruiting Squadron, spent much of the three-hour event helping young children use the Zorb balls — one of the event’s most popular activities.

“You have to stand up and put your arms through here,” Griffin told 6-year-old, Gustavo Diaz, as the youth readied to play in the Zorb.

Gustavo’s mom, military spouse, Tasha Morales, helped push her son’s Zorb as the boy laughed and ran toward another of the about a dozen balls. Gustavo is a home-schooled first-grader and has a 5-year-old brother, Emmanuel, who also enjoyed the block party with their mom.

“It’s fun for the kids, and they get to meet and make new friends,” Morales said. “We really had a lot of fun.”

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