A support group for Marine Corps families came together in Hilliard this past weekend to honor heroes, both alive and fallen.

A support group for Marine Corps families came together in Hilliard this past weekend to honor heroes, both alive and fallen.

The Marine Corps Family Support Community held its annual picnic and Freedom Walk Saturday at 3800 Veterans Memorial Drive.

The support group's treasurer, Carol Michel, described it as a charity organization that sends care packages to Marines during their deployments. She said the group sends small items such as snacks, sun block and batteries -- little gifts a Marine far away from home might appreciate.

Michel said the annual picnic creates an opportunity for families of deployed Marines to connect and lean on each other.

Jo Howard is one of those family members. Her son, Cpl. Kenny Howard, 22, is in Okinawa, Japan. Jo Howard said he served in Iraq last year and will return there in October. He's been in the Marines for nearly three years. She said she usually talks to him about once a month.

She said the support group brings her "a lot" of comfort.

"It's nice to be able to talk to other families in the same situation," Howard said. "They relate better than other people who don't have family members stationed overseas. You're all in the same boat, you can help each other out. ... it's really nice to have somebody to talk to."

Michel said the Freedom Walk is part of the "America Supports You" program, which was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense and provides citizens an opportunity to recognize the armed forces.

Michel said the Freedom Walk is held around the country to honor those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. She said the support group decided to consolidate the walk with its annual picnic.

The support group will hold a major fundraiser on Sept. 6 at the Riverwatch Tower Condominiums, 364 W. Lane Ave., Columbus. Volunteers are needed to work a tailgate event taking place during the Ohio State University vs. Ohio University football game.

Michel said the fundraiser will raise "the bulk of our money." She said 70 volunteers are needed and at press time only 48 were signed up. Michel said the group will take as many volunteers as it can get.

For more information, visit www.mcfscoh.org.

calexis@thisweeknews.com