Coast Guard cutter crew volunteers for school’s Spring Fling day in Rockville, Md.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Graham, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, serves food to students Wednesday, May 29, 2013, during the Spring Fling event at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Montgomery County School in Rockville, Md. A group of eight Coast Guardsmen from the cutter volunteered their time to help set up and run games at the event. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

Petty Officer 1st Class Ryan Graham, a crewmember aboard the Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, serves food to students Wednesday, May 29, 2013, during the Spring Fling event at Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Montgomery County School in Rockville, Md. A group of eight Coast Guardsmen from the cutter volunteered their time to help set up and run games at the event. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lindberg.

Post written by PA2 Jonathan Lindberg

A small group of Coast Guardsmen from the Coast Guard Cutter James Rankin, homeported at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore, recently spent a day volunteering their time at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Montgomery County School in Rockville, Md., a school dedicated to providing special education to children with a range of disabilities, including autism, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.

Chief Petty Officer Andrew Phelps, a crewmember aboard the cutter, organized the group of eight volunteers and this is the crew’s second year volunteering at the school’s annual Spring Fling celebration, which recognizes the students’ completion of the school year.

“When we were asked if we wanted to volunteer, I asked a few others and got command approval, so we came out here to volunteer our time,” said Phelps. “It was a big hit last year, and it looks like it got bigger this year.”

The size of the event expanded each year, and the crew’s willingness to volunteer has played a big part in that expansion.

“By our people volunteering, it lets their teachers do more and have more stations this year,” said Phelps.

The extra help the crew provides is appreciated by the school’s staff and allows more attention to be given to the students.

“It’s a big undertaking in terms of setting up, cooking the food and organizing,” said Terry Scott, the director of education at the Montgomery County School.

Help from the Coast Guard and students’ parents definitely allows everything to go smoothly and improves the experience for our students, said Scott.

For the crew of the cutter, it was a welcome change in their normal workday routine. A day spent in the sun playing with kids is something they gladly give up their time to do. The volunteers helped with all aspects of the day, from setting up tents, making food, assisting with crafts and running some of the games.

“Today, I got to run the dunk tank, actually be dunked in it, and be hands-on with the kids,” said Seaman Adam Muniz, a crewmember aboard the cutter. “This event was great, and it was a lot of fun to interact with all of the kids.”

To have an opportunity to give back to the community and help others is reason enough to participate. It was also a great opportunity for the volunteers to share information about the work they do in the Coast Guard.

“I like the fact that the crew was helpful and volunteered, and I love doing it for the kids,” said Phelps. “The kids like that we are in the Coast Guard, that’s why this year they asked if we could be in some sort of Coast Guard shirt because the kids like asking us questions about the ships. The school tells them about what we normally do for a job and then when we can come here and help out it’s appreciated, and they remember us.

The crew of the cutter plans to continue this tradition of volunteering for the school’s Spring Fling and hopes to get more volunteers to make a bigger impact on the school and the students in the future.

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