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Cowpens Sailors Deliver Fun, Smiles to Orphanage
FUJISAWA CITY, Japan (NNS) -- More than 50 USS Cowpens (CG 63) Sailors and their family members participated in a community service project at the Misono Orphanage June 5 in Fujisawa City, Japan.

Past and present officers and crew of the Ticonderoga-class, guided-missile cruiser have volunteered at the orphanage for more than five years.

Rather than waiting for their annual holiday visit to the orphanage, Cowpens volunteers brought their smiles and a few party tricks for an early and entertaining visit to the orphanage.

"We're here at the Misono Orphanage to entertain the children and to strengthen an already strong relationship we have with the orphanage," said Lt. Kermit Jones Jr., Cowpens command chaplain. "We adopted this orphanage many years ago and brought things today for the children to play with from our base MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation)."

The event started with a game of tag between the children and Cowpens "mascot," Interior Communications Electrician 2nd Class (SW) Dixon Rivera, who happily donned a cow costume for the day.

Other activities included grappling in novelty sumo wrestler suits, bouncing in an inflatable bounce house and playing catch with the Sailors.

"I'm having a great time playing with the kids," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW) Love Terrell Harris III, of Moss Point, Miss. "The kids here are wonderful, the staff is great and everyone welcomed us with open arms."

After a round of morning games, Sailors prepared American-style barbecue of cheeseburgers and hot dogs for the children. The children showed their appreciation by baking a cake for the meal.

"COMSERVs (community service projects) like this are very important for Sailors," said Harris. "It gives us a chance to get out and interact with the host nation and for them to experience a little of our culture and understand why we are here in Japan."

Following the barbecue, Sailors played games with the children, including red-light, green-light, kickball and tug-of-war.

Cowpens Sailors are scheduled to return to the orphanage again during the holiday season to distribute gifts as part of their annual Angel Tree Program.

"I think it's really important that we come out here, so the kids know that there is someone out there who loves them and wants to spend time with them," said Jones. "When we come back at Christmas, they'll be excited and remember us."
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