Families enjoy Easter festivities during social event, egg hunt
Easter, like many holidays, is best celebrated with others. It provides precious opportunities to spend quality time with friends and loved ones — time that can often be overlooked or overshadowed by the demands of the military lifestyle.
For more than 100 children of service members on Okinawa, Easter provided a time to gather with other children and families to celebrate the holiday and enjoy tasty treats and refreshments after an intense egg hunt March 29 at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
The egg hunt was organized and supported by units stationed aboard MCAS Futenma and is intended to become an annual event, according to Lt. Cmdr. Matthew S. Weems, the MCAS Futenma chaplain.
“This being our first organized Easter egg hunt, we are very excited about the turnout,” said Weems. “It was a great time for the children to get out and have fun.”
Volunteers with the single Marine program assisted in the preparation for the event, hiding eggs and cleaning the area, so children could safely track the eggs down.
“Without the SMP volunteers, we would not have been able to have this event today,” said Weems. “We had to quickly adjust the schedule for the event, and the SMP delivered on supporting us with that.”
The event brought together children of service members who live on and off base, allowing them to build and strengthen friendships.
“We are very thankful for our children’s opportunity to participate in this event,” said Pamela Matsunaga, a parent at the event. “It was a good opportunity for our children to be able to interact with children they do not see often.”
The family readiness program for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron received support from several facilities to provide refreshments and entertainment for the event.
“We ended up gathering more than 3,000 eggs for the event, and were able to arrange to get the food prepared on time,” said Ashley Rinell, the assistant family readiness officer for H&HS, MCAS Futenma. “We’ve been planning this event for months, and it is nice that it came to fruition through the combined support of the squadrons and air station.”
The chaplain and FRO for Futenma worked throughout the month of February to ensure the event would be able to meet an ideal date and time for all families.
“The timing was an essential part of the event,” said Rinell. “Aside from preparing a backup plan in the event of a storm, which did happen, we had to plan for a date that would not interfere with family gatherings on Easter Sunday.”
The USO was decorated with an aesthetic setup reminiscent of traditional American holiday festivities to provide the children a familiar atmosphere for their celebration, according to Weems.
“Doing something like this for the children is so important to us,” said Weems. “It brings a touch of home for the families, as well as the Marines who are so far away from what they are accustomed to.”