YOKOSUKA, Japan - Afloat Training Group Western Pacific (ATGWP) Yokosuka aboard Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, welcomed the Shiroyama Children's Home for a Christmas celebration with ATGWP Sailors and family members at Yokosuka Middle School aboard the facility, Dec. 3.
"We have been working with the home for 50 years," said Senior Chief Machinist Mate James Bailey, event coordinator. "We've done the Christmas party with them for at least the last 10 years. We come down here and show them a good time like they were our own kids."
The party marks the end of a year in which the Sailors traveled to the home to complete community relations projects that improved the home and provided it with a new barbecue cooking area.
"Shiroyama is not close by, it's a couple hours away," said Senior Chief Quarter Master Henry Nicol, event coordinator. "When we go there, when we paint a play ground or clean up their home, we are changing these kids lives. We go there quite often, so the teachers felt that it would be good to come here to see where we live and work. That's how we began setting up the Christmas party."
Volunteers from ATGWP set up games, a potluck lunch and group activities for the children. The children were also able to decorate cookies, win prizes and play games that even the adults took part in.
"I think that the children really enjoyed everything," said Yu Ohashi, Shiroyama care taker. "They are happy to get out and play with the other children. I really appreciate that they invited us to spend the day together."
After food and games, Nicol brought all the children together and read "The Night Before Christmas" while a translator provided the Japanese version to the children from Shiroyama. After the reading, Santa appeared from behind the curtains on stage to pass out presents to all the children.
"Before the event we get a list of all the kids that are coming from the home and from the command," said Nicol. "We get their names and Santa calls each up to the stage to receive a gift."
After receiving gifts, the children from both groups played together with their new toys.
"I think that this was a great opportunity for us to show our kids that the greatest gift is giving back," said Chief Ship's Serviceman Maurice Thomas. "We taught them the real meaning of Christmas."