Soldiers brighten holidays for Highline children

The classrooms at Children’s Home Society of Washington’s Highline Early Learning Center were anticipating the arrival of three special guests last Friday. Preschoolers squirmed in their chairs with excitement as Sgt. Tray Mcelroy, Pfc. Rashawn Anthony and Pfc. Manuel Arce from Joint Base Lewis–McChord (JBLM) walked in smiling.  

“The men and I wanted to bring a few gifts and a check we put together on our own to give children a happier holiday,” said Mcelroy. “We also wanted to interact with the children, teach them how to make paper airplanes, get a little silly and just have fun.”

Mcelroy searched online for a children’s organization to support this holiday season and came across the Children’s Home Society of Washington (CHSW) website.

Preschooler Danielle had a fun time seeing if her planes would fly.

Preschooler Danielle had a fun time seeing if her planes would fly.

“I knew instantly CHSW was the place I wanted to give my time and gifts,” Mcelroy said. “CHSW’s programs help so many different people. As a soldier, there is a lot of time away from family. It’s nice to have an opportunity to do something for kids who really need it.” 

Mcelroy explained giving back to the community doesn’t take a lot of time or money—only a desire to support and help others.  

“I wanted to show the younger soldiers that you can give back without being famous or wealthy,” said Mcelroy. “We can all make a difference if we try.”

Karlee Calvin, program manager at Highline Early Learning Center, along with staff were very appreciative of the time the soldiers spent playing with the children.

“We are honored to have been chosen from so many worthy organizations locally as the recipient of these gifts and the soldiers’ time,” said Calvin. “The children are so happy they came to visit.”

Tray Mcelroy, Rashawn Anthony and Manuel Arce are from the 46th Aviation Support Battalion where they supply and maintain helicopters at JBLM.

Jennifer Parsons is the marketing communications manager for CHSW.