NAGOYA, Japan - The Sailors assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76) visited the Holy Angeles Orphanage in Nagoya for a community service project, Sept. 5.
Volunteers from the Higgins were given the opportunity to help clean around the orphanage and socialize with the children as well as experience some of the local culture of Japan.
"It important for us to give back to the communities that host us," said Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Karlins of Higgins. "Going out into the community and interacting with the local population strengthens the relationship between the U.S. Navy and our host countries, as well as, it allows us the chance to give back to those in need."
The Holy Angeles Orphanage is host to more than 50 children ranging in ages from 3-18. The orphanage was originally administered by Catholic missionaries and is currently managed by the Misono Association for Children's Welfare, a local social welfare service corporation.
"Today's experience was nothing short of heartwarming," said Navy Counselor 1st Class Joel Hall. "The children are in such high spirits, which shows that the facilitators at the orphanage love those children like they were their own and the children really see this as a family."
The children played traditional Japanese games with the Sailors as well as basketball, foot racing, and shared treats like shaved ice and hand-made popcorn. At the end of the event, the Sailors presented the children with donated toys and games.
"I was expecting to meet the children and not be able to have much interaction with my limited Japanese and their limited English," said Karlins. "I was surprised how easy it was to play games, laugh, and make friends despite the language barrier."
Service projects such as this play an integral part in strengthening the relationship between the U.S. and its allies. They provide a chance for the Sailors to engage in the local culture and work alongside their host nation counterparts.
"I never realized this deployment would provide me time to do be able to participate in events like these," said Information Systems Technician Seaman Tyler Smith. "I really look forward to future events that allow me the opportunity to come out of my shell and experience other cultures like this one did."
Higgins is home-ported in San Diego, Calif. and is on deployment in the 7th Fleet area of operations promoting maritime security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.