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Corporals help improve local orphanage

Date Posted: 2005-08-17

ITOMAN CITY - Twenty-six students from 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group's corporals course teamed up with the local children to volunteer their time to make some improvements at Tai Chu En orphanage Aug. 2.

The Marines painted a mural of a landscape on a wall that is 6 feet tall and 35 feet long, cleared a 6 feet wide strip of sugar cane from the wall with gas-powered trimmer garden tools and played with the orphans. The orphanage has more than 100 residents and was established 23 years ago. It is named after a Buddhist monk who, according to Makio Yamamoto, head of the orphanage, brought Buddhism to the island 500 years ago.

Capt. William F. Cuddy, Wing Chaplain, Navy Chaplain Corps, was the first to establish a steady schedule of events with the orphanage and the Marines, said Yamamoto.

"The biggest thing for me is having a schedule of events," Yamamoto said. "Even if the members (of the volunteer group) change, the orphans still have the opportunity to interact with Marines."

Volunteer efforts such as this are a great way to get to know and help out our Japanese neighbors, said Sgt. Paskell M. Elliot, a heavy equipment operator, Materiel Readiness Company, 3rd MRB, 3rd FSSG.

"It's good to get out and show the locals another side of the military other than (M16A2 service rifles) and camouflage uniforms," Elliot said.

This is not the first time 3rd FSSG has volunteered at the orphanage.

"We have had this type of relationship with the Marines for over 15 years," said Yamamoto. "It's nothing new to the staff members who have been here for a while, but a lot of the kids haven't had a chance to experience things with service members."

Over the years, the relationship has positively affected both communities, he explained.

"It creates cultural benefits that help us and (the Marines)," said Yamamoto. "The Marines get to see Okinawan culture, and the kids at the orphanage get to see something they otherwise would not have the chance to see."

According to Elliot, volunteering has more than political benefits.

"It helps you feel good as a person," Elliot said. "Nobody will leave here without a smile on their face."

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