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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - A Marine dashes down the commissary aisles here May 22 as he races against others to retrieve items throughout the store. Commissary staff, the Semper Fit girls and Single Marine Program personnel hosted this Commissary Awareness Month event that included tours, physically and mentally challenging games, and "Supermarket Sweep"-style races, all meant to enhance single service members' knowledge of the savings and goods available at their base's commissary.

Photo by Cpl. Mike Escobar

Commissary serves single service members 'Supermarket Sweep'

22 May 2006 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

Perhaps it’s best that Camp Lejeune’s commissary closes its doors to shoppers every Monday.  Otherwise, numerous mishaps, spills, bumps and bruises might have occurred here May 22, as dozens of Marines and sailors zipped through the aisles and nearly careened into displays while pushing carts loaded with everything from peppers and pickles to produce and poultry.

Such was the scene as commissary personnel, partnering with the Single Marine Program and Semper Fit, hosted the fifth annual Commissary Awareness Month event to entice single service members to check out the savings and selection aboard their base grocery store.  This year’s
theme was “Your commissary … a healthy choice.”

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Marines and sailors from various units across Camp Lejeune stopped by the commissary to participate in an afternoon filled with activities emulating the popular game show, “Supermarket Sweep”. 

The event kicked off with a welcoming from the Semper Fit girls, SMP personnel and commissary staff.  They addressed the approximately 50 troops at the front of the store, educating them on commissary benefits many troops were not aware of.

“It (the commissary) is one of the biggest benefits available to Marines out there,” explained Danny Fisher, store administrator.  “We offer (an average) 30 percent savings over most outside stores, along with great quality and great selection.”

This would be emphasized via the mentally and physically challenging games the service members then played to familiarize themselves with commissary goods.  The events included answering riddles, strength endurance competitions and racing each other around the store to snatch up personal hygiene items and healthy snack foods.  Successfully retrieving these items meant prizes for the winning contestants, including first-time commissary visitors like Pfc. Jose Vega.

“This is a good event for the Marines because we get a chance to relax, have fun and learn about the commissary,” said Vega, a Marine with 2nd Marine Logistics Group who won two 30-minute phone cards while playing the games.  “I’m seeing that a lot of stuff here is cheaper than out in town and I definitely plan to come here in the future.”

A display-building contest followed the initial fun and games.  Vega and several other troops dashed off to fill shopping carts with miscellaneous boxes, bottles and even floral décor as they competed against the other teams to build the best display. 

Col. Adele Hodges, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s commander and Sgt. Maj. Michael Brown, the base’s sergeant major, then strode into the commissary to judge the avant-garde architectural masterpieces.  It fell upon each team’s spokesperson to convince the distinguished guests as to why they should vote for their tower of dishwashing detergent, pineapples and toilet paper as the number one structure.

Hodges said all the participants were winners in her mind; nevertheless, she and Brown gave the ultimate thumbs-up to a patriotically-decorated display of cotton-tipped swabs, soap and mouthwash.  

After the judging, the troops dashed off one final time to run laps around the store.  With shopping carts in tow, they plowed through the aisles and often times into each other as they hunted for grocery items during this final “Supermarket Sweep”-style relay race.

The hosts, Marines and sailors then broke bread over a barbecue luncheon to cap the fun-filled afternoon.  Many exhausted troops slumped down to eat as they shared the day’s many comical moments.

Meanwhile, SMP personnel like Susan Goodrich relished in the event’s successes.

“The purpose of today was to promote the commissary to single Marines and sailors so they see that the savings and services offered here aren’t just for married people,” the SMP coordinator explained.  “A lot of single Marines have never been here and we hope that they now want to come here to buy their goods at a cheaper price.”

Goodrich further explained that SMP routinely offers fun, free events such as this, amusement park trips and outdoor excursions.  Marines and sailors can find out about upcoming events and get involved with the program by logging onto www.mccslejeune.com/SMP.html.