MANZANILLO, Mexico - Sailors from littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) participated in a community service project and donated Project Handclasp materials at a local orphanage in Manzanillo, Mexico, April 24, during the ship's first foreign port visit since its commissioning.
Eighteen volunteers from Independence and embarked Mine Countermeasures (MCM) Detachment 1 spent the day painting multiple rooms at Casa Hogar Liborio Espinoza, an orphanage that is home to 16 Manzanillo children.
They also delivered hygiene and medical supplies from Project Handclasp as well as stuffed animals donated by Loving Hugs, Inc.
"I came here today because I believe in giving back to the community-not just in the United States," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Gina Myers, who helped organize the community service project. "This is Independence's first port visit to a foreign country, so it's a fantastic opportunity for us to get out and interact with the locals.
The orphanage was founded 15 years ago by a priest, Father Jose Carlos, according to Claudia Ramos, the orphanage director. It provides food, housing and education for children with no parents or parents who cannot provide for their children due to alcohol, drugs or other problems.
"What the United States Navy is doing for these kids in Mexico is really great," said Ramos. "It's a good feeling to have them here, and I know the children appreciate it."
More Sailors will volunteer for a second day of the community service project to complete the painting project, including Myers.
"I love to get involved and build the rapport with the community and give good representation of the U.S. Navy," said Myers. "I also love children, and this was a great way to help them out."
Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.
Sailors assigned to Independence's Gold Crew and embarked MCM Detachment 1 are underway for the ship's maiden voyage to San Diego.