MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Volunteers from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, delivered toys and played with children during a visit to a children’s home in Houfu, Japan, Dec. 23, 2014.
Oana Ivanoff, vice president of the Marine Thrift Store, said this community relations event helps foster the relationship between the United States and Japan.
“The purpose of this visit is to bring joy and smiles during the holiday season,” said Ivanoff. “They always ask me ‘when are you coming back?’ Nothing compares to the joy we bring these children.”
A social worker from the orphanage said this visit has a greater impact on the children then the service members realize.
“We appreciate the visit from the service members, the children are happiest when they are here,” said a social worker with the children’s home. “The presence of military personnel influences the children in a positive light. The surrounding community is grateful for Iwakuni’s efforts to help make the children’s Christmas the best possible.”
This is the second time the thrift store donated its collection from a toy drive/motorcycle rally earlier this year. The rally collected more than 300 toys to give to the children’s home of 72.
“The children are always super excited when we visit,” said Ivanoff. “We get to make a huge impact with are presence alone. Then you add a diverse selection of toys and you get some of the happiest kids you'll ever meet.”
The social worker said the toys were nice, but the visit itself is what mattered most to the children. Ivanoff said the Marine Thrift Store does its best to give back more than they receive.
“Volunteering is important,” said Ivanoff. “I think everyone should give back when they can. I know everyone has their own life, but when you get the chance, a little help can go a long way for someone in need.”