The White Sands Community was established in 1955. National Night Out is an opportunity for children to play, the community members to visit with one another and community organizations to share information with the residents.
Lynda Bowman chairs the event. She was one of the first chairs, took a break for a few years, and was asked to chair the event again this year. Bowman said it take four to five months to plan the event and many, many volunteers. The committee contacts community agencies, set up food and drinks, games, door prizes and entertainment. She said the “faces of the children and their parents having fun is worth the time it takes to put it together.”
Entertainment includes Red’s Reptile Show. There are several aquariums set up with various reptiles, but the one that the children flock to is the iguana wrapped around Reds’ neck and head. Reds worked for many years at aquariums throughout the country and has taken his love of the animals to teach children about them. He and his partner, Diane Stokes, provide reptile rescue and adoption, educational presentations and birthday parties. Have you ever found a snake in your shed? They also provide removal and relocation. For more information contact Diane Stokes at 240-486-0460, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bookmobile from the Calvert County Library was open and filled with books. It was obvious it was a hit as children entered and exited the vehicle, pulling books from the shelves and finding a comfortable place to sit on the floor of the vehicle. Several little ones called to parents and grandparents asking them to read to them.
DFC Curtis Callison, Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, and his K-9 dog, provided a ‘drug search’ demonstration. The dog sat quietly until he was given the command, taking off with the officer in tow, searching around cars until finding the “drug packet” in a bush. He then “stood down” until DFC Callison confirmed the find. DFC Curtis Callison said in the county there are 17 dogs working with 14 handlers, training several times a year.
In the community center, Reserve Officers Barbara Allen and Kathy Fisher of the National Resources Police provided water safety information. They noted that the White Sands community offered water access and it was important to teach children water safety at a young age. Their request to the children was to wear your life jackets whenever you were on the water.
Amy Howard, Calvert County Animal Control, talked with children and adults about the responsibilities of the animal control officers. She handed out many brochures on pet care and animal control. Howard said, “on a warm night like tonight, I am also talking about how important it is to treat your pets responsibly in the heat.” The animal control vehicle was open for tours.
Bill Smith, part of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, was promoting boating safety. Created by an Act of Congress in 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed, all-volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard. Auxiliary members conduct safety patrols on local waterways, assist in Search and Rescue, teach boating safety classes, conduct free vessel safety checks for the public, provide boating safety literature to dealers, as well as many other activities related to recreational boating safety. Membership is open to persons 17 years of age and older. For more information visit http://wow.uscgaux.info.
Maryland State Police Trooper McCombs wants the children to know that police officers “are approachable and are your friend.” He passed out coloring books and information on the Maryland State Police as he talked with the children and their parents.
The Calvert Health Department provided a wealth of information available on their table. Cindy Lohman and Patti Schleeter provided brochures and contact information for the many programs that the Calvert Health Department provides for both children and adults.
The Calvert County Department of Social Services and the Maryland Department of Social Services provided information on the support that can be provided to families. The agency provides a wide range of services to low-income individuals and families including job training and certifications, food supplement programs, energy assistance programs, and more. Shantel Green, Lisa Raley and Jayne Huntingery were on hand to answer questions.
Calvary Bible Church (CBC) distributed information on available activities at the church located across the street from the entrance of White Sands. Activities include a ‘Kid’s Club,’ Mothers of Young Ones, a ‘Movie and Sub Night’, men’s and ladies’ Bible studies, and Fusion Youth Group. The Fusion Youth Group, held Fridays from 7-10 p.m. in the gym, is for students grades 7-12. Teens can play basketball, volleyball and Gaga Ball and learn life lessons from the Bible. There are special events throughout the year, including “all nighters” in the gym. For more information visit www.CBCLusby.org or email CBCLusby@comcast.net.
At the White Sands Foundation table, Susan Ude talked about a project the community has undertaken. With a growing youth population and limited and dated recreation facilities, the children are playing whenever they can, sometimes without regard for their own safety. The foundation is raising money to build a community playground that would include playground equipment, a family fitness course, and a multipurpose area that could be used for basketball and other sports. The expected cost is approximately $75,000.
The foundation has partnered with Chesapeake Charities, Inc. to kickstart the fundraising. Chesapeake Charities is a community foundation located in Stevensville, Maryland, that assists organizations with financial, legal and administrative details necessary to create and sustain a successful nonprofit organization. If you would like to learn more about this worthy project or would like to donate or provide in-kind services, please call Susan Ude at 202-369-4749.
Throughout the evening there were plenty of hot dogs, soda and water. Every half hour winners of door prizes were called. And at the end of the evening, two very lucky children went home with bicycles.
Please enjoy the picture gallery below.
Joyce Stinnett Baki / Calvert Beacon Reporter