ARRAIJAN, Panama (NNS) -- USS Ingraham (FFG 61) participated in a community relations project during a port visit to Panama May 30.
Sixteen Sailors from the Ingraham, based out of Everett, Washington, volunteered at San Jose de Malambo Orphanage in Arraijan, Panama, during a port visit while on deployment to the U.S. Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet areas of operation.
Ingraham distributed toys and supplies donated by Project Handclasp to the orphanage to include cribs, skateboards and soccer balls.
In addition, Sailors spent time restoring the facilities to include repainting two pool areas.
"It was the best experience so far in my Naval career. The excitement and looks on the children's faces were priceless," remarks Personnel Specialist Third Class Jesus Salazar.
Petty officer Salazar served as a translator for the children and staff of the orphanage.
"Serving in the US Navy and being able to lend a hand to other countries is invaluable. It was an honor to translate during this project."
San Jose de Malambo Orphanage is a home for young boys and girls without a family. When the children reach the age of eighteen, they are welcomed to stay at the facility until they are able to make arrangements for work and a place to live. The orphanage also has two houses dedicated for children with disabilities and HIV. This year is San Jose de Malambo's 124th anniversary.
"The joy and happiness expressed by the giant smiles on the children's faces showed me that small acts of kindness can have huge impacts," said Logistics Specialist Seaman William Pietsch. "This is one of the best ways for Sailors to truly experience other countries when they pull into foreign ports."
Ingraham is deployed in support of Operation Martillo, an international and interagency effort that targets illicit trafficking in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus.
U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.