MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Corpsmen and officers at the Robert M. Casey Medical and Dental Clinic here hosted a Christmas celebration for the Akebono Orphanage Dec. 1, 2012.
Along with help from Education and Developmental Intervention Services, part of U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, Branch Health Clinic hosts this Christmas celebration annually.
“We have Santa come, we exchange gifts, and we always have pizza, because that’s their favorite,” said Madelyn Santiago, EDIS medical association recreation committee chairwoman. “We show them a little bit about the American culture of Christmas.”
Upon their arrival, the children received soccer balls and proceeded outside to play games with the BHC staff. Afterwards, the children and staff worked together in decorating a Christmas tree with ornaments, lights and traditional Japanese origami sculptures. The final portion of decorating came when Navy Capt. Moise Willis, BHC officer-in-charge, and the youngest child from Akebono, placed the star together atop the tree.
Once the decorating was complete and everyone ate, the time had come for Santa to pass out gifts to all the eagerly awaiting children.
“We’re trying to instill that it’s better to give than to receive,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Joseph Myers, BHC leading petty officer and Santa Claus for the day. “We try to take care of the less fortunate around this time of year.”
When the gift exchange was done, the children returned to playing games until it was time for them to leave.
“As an ambassador for the United States, we have to ensure that we can keep a good relationship with our host nation,” said Myers.
Myers also said, their participation in events like this helps build relationships and bridges the cultural gap.
“There is nothing that compares to the joy that we see on the faces of these kids,” said Santiago. “They look forward to something like this and it just makes it all so special. They’re so humble and appreciative and it makes us feel so awesome to see them so happy.”
BHC members say they plan to invite the children from Akebono in the summer for a pool party