MARNE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif --Laughter filled the air as Combat Center Marines volunteered with Desert Arc at Camp Ronald McDonald in Mountain Center, Calif, Saturday. The event was coordinated through Navy Lt. Donald Baker, Chaplain, Headquarters Battalion, to help build a stronger relationship with the base’s surrounding community.
Desert Arc has provided disabled adults with care and life skills for approximately 55 years. The organization has various locations that range from Coachella Valley, Calif., to Blythe, Calif. Desert Arc has more than 600 clients. At the Palm Desert location, they provide their participants with vocational training and on-site employment opportunities.
The special needs campers started their day with breakfast at the dining hall and began activities at 9 a.m. The activities included archery, arts and crafts, fishing, swimming, softball, basketball, canoeing and a Hawaiian-themed dance in the evening. Aly Leavitt, lifeguard, Camp Ronald McDonald, has worked for the camp for six years and has volunteered for two years.
“I definitely enjoy doing it,” Leavitt said. “I love being on the mountain and interacting with everyone.”
Emily Montoya, volunteer, also served as a lifeguard along Leavitt during this event.
“We heard about this opportunity to volunteer through our church and we were both excited to help serve a good cause,” Montoya said.
During arts and crafts, the campers got the chance to make pinch-pot bowls and paint pre-made figurines provided by Old Town Artisan Studio in La Quinta, Calif. The art studio also provided the camp with two volunteers, Stefania Ford, who helped with the painting, and Colby Cramer, who helped with the pottery.
“I’m having a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to the dance tonight,” Clark said.
At the archery range, Headquarters Battalion Marines helped the participants learn how to use bows and arrows. Some of the campers have the opportunity to work for the Desert Arc at any of their many locations across California. One of those campers was Barbara Ballie, who has been with the camp for almost 12 years. They provided her with a job opportunity as a cook at Camp Ronald McDonald.
There are many volunteer opportunities available through Desert Arc and Camp Ronald McDonald. For more information on how to get involved call (760) 346-1611 for Desert Arc or (310) 268-8488 for Camp Ronald McDonald.