While the Month of the Military Child doesnâ€™t officially start until April, you would never have known it wasnâ€™t already in full swing at last weekâ€™s â€œUnder the Big Topâ€ Carnival at the Happy Hearts Child Development Center on Fort Irwin.
The event on March 28 was the first in what will be an annual celebration that brings together Military Families for an afternoon of fun.Â It also affords the teachers and staff at Happy Hearts an opportunity to thank those families they serve.
As parents and children arrived they were greeted with the smiling faces of the staff, including director Andrea Moncrease and assistant director Sue Shelton.Â Guests were treated to traditional circus-style popcorn boxes to fill with the well-known carnival treat.Â Additionally, hot-dogs, cotton candy and assorted juice drinks, were available, free of charge, served up by members of the Morale, Welfare and Recreationâ€™s HIRED! Program.
Rooms were filled with fun activities for children and parents alike.Â Bouncy houses were available inside and out, with plenty of socializing and seating areas for moms and dads. The next room over, face-painting and games kept the little ones in the carnival spirit; while staff and volunteers helped the children make animal masks and spring-themed crafts.
Throughout the building, the sound of raffle numbers and laughter mixed as prizes were awarded, including the grand prizeâ€”a basket filled with books, bookmarks and pencils donated by the Parent To Parent team of Fort Irwinâ€”which was won by Kalyca Sayre.Â Overall, the Happy Hearts first annual â€œUnder the Big Topâ€ Carnival was a successful endeavor enjoyed by all.
And, Happy Hearts plans to keep the good times going.Â Over the next two months, the CDC is organizing its â€œHappy Gardensâ€ effort to pair Soldiers and children in planting spring flowers on the CDC grounds. The garden boxes were built by Michael Whitthans, a staff member at Happy Hearts, to provide the children an opportunity to learn about gardening, responsibility and making the community a more beautiful place. On April 22nd, Earth Day, Happy Hearts CDC will host a day of planting, nature crafts, vegetable tasting and salad making. There will be two sessions in order to accommodate as many parents as possible; â€œWe really want to see as many Soldiers and their children planting together,â€ said Sue Shelton. Session 1 will be from 8:30 â€“ 9:15 and Session 2 will be from 4:30 â€“ 5:15 and volunteers are welcome!
It all adds up to another example of people making a difference through volunteering and giving back to the Fort Irwin community.