FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 24) -- Fort Belvoir Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization's annual carnival attracted Families from across the post to celebrate Armed Forces Day Saturday at the school.
Family members ate hot dogs, pizza and chips, jumped on moon bounces, and played carnival games, during the PTO's annual fundraiser.
"I think it's a great day," said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Steve Harriman, Navy Recruiting District, Richmond, lead petty officer. "The kids are really enjoying it. It's good for them to see all their friends, and there are activities inside and outside for them to do."
Harriman's two daughters go to Belvoir Elementary and he said his wife is involved with the PTO.
"She tries to keep track of all the events and go to them," said Harriman of his wife. "I don't know what all they use the money for, but the kids are always talking about how the PTO bought them ice cream or something else. So, we definitely wanted to give back."
Even though there were less people at the event than in previous years, Sgt. 1st Class Frederick McHaney, White House Military Office, Assistant noncommissioned-officer-in-charge said he still enjoyed the afternoon.
"It's another event to get the kids involved at the school and enjoy a community event," McHaney said. "I like the vendors inside, too. It gives them a chance to promote their businesses."
Children had six moon bounces to play on and participated in games like baseball toss, froggy-fly-fling and the football toss outside the school's front entrance.
Mount Vernon High School Varsity football players volunteered to help run the games and the concession area. The football players got involved to interact with the children and be good role models.
"I remember when I was (in elementary school) and how much fun it was to engage with the older guys," said Daniel King, sophomore, Mount Vernon High school. "So, I try to stay positive and make them have fun because I get enjoyment from this, too."
The Armed Services Blood Program conducted a blood drive, as part of a health fair, to collect blood for U.S. Armed Forces troops in theater and beneficiaries who receive treatment in military hospitals.
Belvoir Elementary sixth graders designed posters to help promote the health fair and demonstrate why it is important to donate blood to Soldiers.
"Some people say 'Soldiers don't need me,' but how do they know they don't need you?" said Katie Harroun, sixth grader. "Soldiers have Families, too, and if you donate blood you can save a life."
Elaine Morrison, Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, Department of Pathology, Chief of Blood Services spoke to the school's sixth graders prior to the carnival about the importance of donating blood.
She said educating children on the benefits of blood donations now will get them excited about donating in five or six years, because they will understand the significance of their contribution.
"They can see that connection when mom or dad are out on the battlefield and get injured," said Morrison. "There is a connection with knowing there are products available to help them get home safely."
Whether they were playing games, talking to vendors or donating blood to help deployed Soldiers, Families members said they were happy they came to the event.
"Out of every event we have been to since we've been at Belvoir, this is by far the best one," said Harriman. "There's more stuff to do and the flow is good. You can go outside and let the kids play, and then come inside and get a snack. It's great."