By Maria Childs, Fort Riley Public AffairsApril 28, 2016
FORT RILEY, Kansas -- Fort Riley families celebrated Month of the Military Child April 20 as they listened to Maj. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, and his wife Cynthia, read them a book during the Military Child Education Coalition's Tell Me a Story event at Marshall Army Airfield.
The commanding general read "Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot" by Margot Theis Raven, which is based on a true story about the Berlin Airlift and candy that dropped from the sky.
"Events like this allow us to slow down and focus on what really matters -- our family," Grigsby said before he began reading. "This program allows our children to learn about our history and share stories that relate to our lives."
About 27 Fort Riley families attended with more than 50 children.
Tara Habhab, an organizer of the event and a Fort Riley spouse, said Tell Me a Story, a bi-annual event at Fort Riley, is an initiative to empower military children by making connections using literature. Each family received a copy of the book and constructed chocolate parachutes.
"It is to encourage family reading and the process of reading together as a family," Habhab said. "We read the book then we go into small groups and have facilitators who help. We want children to think about the book. It's another level of understanding and connecting with the book."
Happy Garner, the other event organizer and Fort Riley spouse, said the books read at the events are meant to strike a chord with military families.
"Resiliency, strong peer connections, a sense of pride and accomplishment and being part of the community are all underlying things that we share in our Tell Me a Story program," Garner said.
Staff Sgt. Travis Hockensmith, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, brought his wife, Julie, and two kids, Natalie and Nathaniel, to the event.
"It's very important," Julie said about reading as a family. "Natalie struggles with reading, so anything I can get her involved with that involves reading is a good thing. I try to emphasize the importance of reading."
Julie said her husband is preparing for a deployment, so the book and its message was a great example for her kids to connect with their dad.
"We've been to one of these events before and the kids love the books," Julie said. "We take them home and they become bedtime stories."