SAN DIEGO – Sailors from the guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) visited patients at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego as part of a community outreach program April 30, bringing with them command ball caps and much more for the children.
The project, spearheaded by the ship’s First Class Petty Officers Mess and modeled after the nationwide “Caps for Kids” program collected donations from the crew to purchase a total of 248 ball caps for the children.
In addition to the crew, donations for the ball caps came from the ship’s wardroom and the ship’s Chief Petty Officers Mess.
In addition to raising funds for command ball caps, the First Class Petty Officers Mess orchestrated a three month long fundraiser to purchase crayons, coloring books, puzzles, stuffed animals and toys for the patients.
Upon completion of the fundraiser, several Sailors accompanied Capt. Timothy Kott, Mobile Bay’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Joseph Bromley, Mobile Bay’s executive officer, and Mobile Bay Command Master Chief Ernest Belmares to meet patients and deliver the donated items to the hospital.
“We are blessed to be able to work with Rady Children’s Hospital,” said Bromley. “They have such an impact on the community of San Diego and our Sailors are honored to be a part of that legacy.”
Upon arrival at the hospital, Mobile Bay Sailors were greeted by Belinda Lanois, coordinator for the In-Kind Program. Her organization is responsible for coordinating non-monetary, charitable donations for Rady Children’s Hospital.
After a brief introduction, the Sailors divided into three groups to visit the Hematology/Oncology department, chronic lung conditions and eating disorders floor, and the post-surgical rehabilitation wing of the hospital.
With toy wagon in tow, Mobile Bay Sailors hand-delivered the gifts and spent time visiting with the young patients. At first some children were shy since the average child at Rady Children’s Hospital meets a total of 67 new faces upon arrival, and 35 new faces each following day.
On this day, however, many children greeted the Sailors with big smiles, happily accepting new gifts and visitors. The timing for this visit was especially important because the majority of donations to Rady Children’s Hospital occur during the winter holiday season, and as a result, summer visitors and gifts are less frequent.
Rady Children’s Hospital has been a premier San Diego healthcare institution for more than 50 years. Originally opened in 1954 to treat children suffering from polio, Rady Children’s Hospital has expanded over the years and is now the largest children’s hospital in California, treating 192,000 patients annually.
In an average year at Rady Children’s Hospital, 20,000 popsicles are consumed and 1,400 packs of crayons are used in the numerous playrooms throughout the hospital.
Humbled and thankful from their recent experience, Mobile Bay’s First Class Petty Officers Mess said they are already planning their next event to benefit the hospital.
Mobile Bay is currently undergoing a Chief of Naval Operations’ selected restricted availability at the BAE Shipyard in San Diego after returning from deployment in April 2013 and completing eight months of follow-on sustainment operations. Mobile Bay is assigned to Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three as part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group.