By Lance Cpl. Kindo Go
Waves gently washed onto the shore during a cloudy, yet warm, day on Okinawa, as a little over 30 service members and their families dotted the shoreline during a beach clean-up on Igei Beach, Okinawa.
Children ran excitedly along the shoreline as they searched for trash hidden in the sand and occasionally splashed around in the oncoming waves.
Service members, military families and others in the military community volunteered with the USO for the Igei Beach cleanup on August 22, 2019.
The volunteers were given trash bags at the start of the clean-up.
Within minutes of stepping off onto the Okinawan coastline, the bags were soon filled with pieces of plastic, cardboard, twigs and seaweed brought back in handfuls by the kids who had ran off ahead of the volunteers.
On the third Thursday of each month, USO Camp Hansen hosts events for their Learning, Engaging, Activity, and Play (LEAP) program. A beach cleanup is one of the possible events the USO hosts for their LEAP program.
“Today, we brought military families and young Marines together for a beach cleanup we’re hosting, which is part of our LEAP program,” said Jamie Webb, the center of operations manager at USO Camp Hansen.
“The program provides Marines opportunities to volunteer for activities with families and kids in our community.”
The LEAP program’s goal is to bring service members and their families together and help develop a close community through fun activities every month.
“I think it’s something working with kids,“ Webb said.
"It brings joy and happiness to the service members who participate. The young kids get to interact with service members and see a different side to them, aside from just seeing them work every day. Both get to talk and communicate with each other, develop friendships, and just have something fun they can do together.”
- This story originally appeared on DVIDS.net. It has been edited for style, grammar and brevity.