LOS ANGELES - USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 personnel gave Navy ball caps and memorabilia to children as part of a Caps for Kids event at the Children's Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), July 26, during Los Angeles Navy Week.
The Navy's Caps for Kids program aims to provide children, nationwide, who are diagnosed and undergoing treatment for cancer, or receiving chemotherapy to treat other life threatening illnesses, a Navy squadron or command ball cap in hopes of lifting the child's spirits while they are required to stay in the hospital for extended periods of time.
"You could see it in [the children's] faces. Having new visitors come by really brightens up their day. Usually we get some visits every day from other organizations, but this is the first visit from the Navy, and it's always great to have new faces," said the CHOC Special Programs Coordinator, Amber Ayala. "We got a good response from the kids and their parents. It was great to see their reactions when the Sailors walked in."
Caps for Kids became a national outreach effort in 2000. The Navy now has more than 500 commands, including ships, submarines and squadrons, and Navy personnel participating in the program.
"Going to the hospital gave us a bigger perspective of life outside the Navy's day-to-day operation. I loved being able to put smiles on their faces, remembering the fun of coloring with the kids, or playing shuffleboard with them. It was a great time," said Lincoln's Command Master Chief Susan Whitman. "I just wish they could come see us on the ship. Hopefully we still brought a little bit of the Navy to them."
"It's been a great opportunity for Sailors to get out to visit and share our time with these wonderful kids," said Rear Adm. Troy "Mike" Shoemaker, Commander, CSG 9. "We are blessed in our lives for this unique opportunity while we are here."
Navy Week is an opportunity for the officers and crew of the visiting ships to help the Navy showcase the quality of its personnel to local citizens. Lincoln's participation in L.A. Navy Week will demonstrate to area leaders and the general public that the Navy remains an effective and vital tool of national defense and a viable career opportunity for young men and women.
The Navy conducts approximately 20 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to showcase for Americans the investments they have made toward their national defense.
Participating in L.A. Navy Week 2011 are Lincoln, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), mine countermeasures ship USS Champion (MCM 4), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, and personnel from Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, Maritime Expeditionary Security Group (MESG) 31, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 3 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit 1.
The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is in Los Angeles between at-sea training and certification periods ahead of a deployment scheduled for the end of the year.