TARAWA, Republic of Kiribati - Pacific Partnership 2013, Project Handclasp and U.S. and partner nation service members distributed toys to students at the Kiribati School for the Disabled during as a part of a community service event on Tarawa Atoll, Republic of Kiribati, July 17.
The community service event also included a performance by the U.S. Pacific Fleet Band, a presentation by the students to the visiting service members and a number of cultural exchanges.
"Community service events are important because they embody the true spirit of Pacific Partnership," said Lt. j.g. Ronald Uglow, one of the event organizers. "It's not only about engineering and medical projects. It's about showing a face to people who often only hear about the great things our militaries do."
John Mostyn Anderson, one of the school's board members, said that the day was about connecting different cultures from around the world and lifting the spirits of children who don't always have much to smile about.
"The kids just loved the band!" said Anderson. "It was a very happy mixture of cultures. It's the human side of information exchange. We all hear about the U.S. and other nations in the papers, but to have these ladies and guys come out and be with us is wonderful."
Anderson also added that the school often struggles with budgets and that the students and teachers are grateful for the items that were given.
Conducted annually since 2006, Pacific Partnership is the largest disaster response-preparedness mission in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand.