Military children spend story time with royalty

14 Aug 2013 | Lance Cpl. Jackeline M. Perez Rivera

Young princes and princesses donned their fairy tale best to listen to North Carolina royalty read during the USO of N.C. Jacksonville Center’s “A Very Royal Story Time,” Aug. 13.
Ashley Love-Mills, this year’s Miss North Carolina, visited the USO to spend time with the youngest members of the military community.
“To them, I’m a princess,” said Love-Mills. “I take my job as a role model seriously. I came here to show my gratitude (to the military community).”
Love-Mills read “Thumbelina” to more than 100 children and their families.
Since 2010, Miss North Carolina has made an annual appearance to spend time with military children.
Events like “A Very Royal Story Time” lets military children know the special place they hold within the community, said Deb Fisher, director of the Jacksonville USO.
Master Sgt. Jerald Cleveland, logistics chief with Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, Marine Aircraft Group 26, comes to the events to spend time with his youngest daughter.
“This is wonderful,” said Cleveland. “I like to do things with (my daughter). Me and my wife are dual military, so any chance I get to spend time with her is great.”
Events like the weekly story time provide a good opportunity for children and their parents to meet peers and mingle, Cleveland added.
“It gives us things to do within the military community,” said Cleveland. “It’s a blast. You get to meet parents who may live down the street from you, and the kids look forward to it.”
Cleveland said his daughter has gained a love of reading from participating in story time events. He noticed exposing his daughter to reading has led her to visit book stores rather than toy stores.
Love-Mills said her parents taught her at a young age education and reading are important, and it’s vital for all parents to place emphasis on all forms of education.
The children at the event took pictures and had cake and pizza with Miss North Carolina. Each family also received a copy of “Thumbelina.”
The USO holds story time every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. for children 2 to 6 years old.
For more information on events at the USO, call 455-3411. Miss North Carolina fans can follow Love-Mills on Twitter and Instagram @real_ashleylove.
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