MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
"The community gives so much to Marines and sailors. It's important to give back," said Susan Goodrich, the branch head of the Single Marine Program, Marine Corps Community Services, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
Service members and ,family aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune have been given a channel to pursue volunteer opportunities to help the local community through Operation Noble Heart.
While this program is governed by the SMP, it is not only for single Marines. Robin Karratti, who acts as a volunteer coordinator for the program, helps Marines, spouses and members of the Onslow County community find volunteer opportunities through Operation Noble Heart.
"Volunteer opportunities are endless and continuous," said Goodrich.
Operation Noble Heart has a long list of organizations and events that are looking for volunteers, from coaching sports and helping with fundraisers to block parties and local festivals.
Organizations and volunteers call Karratti who checks groups to ensure they fit with the idea of what Operation Noble Heart is looking for, namely a good experience for volunteers who participate. If they meet the requirements, she notifies volunteers through their SMP representative and through e-mails to those interested.
Opportunities include, but are certainly not limited to, building homes with Habitat for Humanity and helping at festivals, and assisting with beach clean-ups.
With 23,000 hours logged last year, the program shows no sign of slowing down. They provide volunteering opportunities for more than 1,500 people, saving the organizations that take part in them approximately $167,000 annually.
Sgt. Man Chan, a warehouse chief with 2nd Marine Logistics Group, said he enjoys events he volunteers for. He's been volunteering two to three times a month since the beginning of the year.
"It's a nice opportunity to meet different people and help out," said Chan, "It lets people know we care about the community."
Volunteers also go to events such as proms at nursing homes, where they spend an afternoon dancing with the residents.
"You'll see a resident in a wheelchair and wonder, ‘Well, how are they going to dance?'" said Goodrich. "Then a Marine or sailor comes in and spins them around and you see this joy in the both of their faces."
Goodrich added how it was a "win-win" for everybody involved. Service members have fun, while organizations get assistance.
"Organizations get service members who want to be there," said Goodrich. "Hands go up (to volunteer) instead of fingers pointing to another person."
For more information visit mccslejeune.com/ONH, or call Robin Karratti at 451-4642.