Sailors from the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) volunteered their time to organize an Easter Bunny visit and egg hunt with the Gatewood Program for Educating Exceptional Preschoolers (PEEP) April 15.
PEEP is a school with the medical capabilities to administer proper care to students with developmental delays or physical handicaps. Through an ongoing relationship, Sailors from Theodore Roosevelt often volunteer throughout the year and during major holiday seasons.
“We work with kids with all types of disabilities, from bipolar to cerebral palsy and all levels of autism.” said Jernelle Brooker, an instructor for PEEP. They are referred to as developmentally-delayed because they may not get their label until later in life.”
More than 20 Sailors work with PEEP, ranging from classroom assistance to events such as the Easter egg hunt. For the event, Sailors hid eggs and dressed up like the Easter Bunny.
“This is my first time coming out to work with the PEEPs program,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate Airmen Tiffany Elston. “I like the interaction between the Sailors and the kids. We get to talk to and hang out with the kids, see them smiling and laughing. It is pretty cool. I was the bunny, the kids went crazy for the bunny. They were hugging me. It was really fun.”
There are many volunteer opportunities available for Sailors aboard Theodore Roosevelt. PEEP is a great way for Sailors to integrate themselves into their local community.
“I think it is wonderful that Sailors take the time out, as busy as you are in your own personal time, to come here and spend time with our kids,” said Brooker. “Our kids get really excited and ecstatic when you enter the building.”
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jennifer Fournier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs