SASEBO, Japan – Air Department Sailors, assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) conducted a food drive to support the homeless and needy of Sasebo, Japan, Jan. 23.
Sailors collected and delivered non-perishable goods to the home of Miss Matsumoto Sachiko, a leader at the Sasebo Rinjin Ai No Kai organization, who will take donated food and prepare meals for local homeless, elderly and low income people around Sasebo.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Christian Manzanares, from Mounds, Okla., the food drive organizer, said she was inspired to organize this community outreach project following a visit to an orphanage last year.
“At the orphanage we saw that they needed food, and they enjoyed our company,” said Manzanares. “I felt the same joy and gratitude from Miss Sachiko as we brought in boxes with food.”
The food was collected by Sailors from the barracks with donations amounting to more than 15 full boxes of groceries.
“The turn-out actually went really well,” said Manzanares. “Initially, I expected to have a lot less, because when I got back from leave there was really nothing to go on with. But the last week we started getting a lot of food items, as Sailors came together in support. It was actually a really good turn-out.”
Sachiko was visibly very thankful to the Sailors for their support and supplies.
“Once a week, I make bento lunches and visit people who have no families or relatives, and those who are sick, and I take care of them,” said Sachiko. “I have been doing this for three years now, and it brings me joy when I get help from young Sailors. Thank you so very much on behalf of the people in need for bringing so much food. They will appreciate it very much.”
Lt. David Hammond, assistant command chaplain aboard Bonhomme Richard, offered a blessing to Sachiko for the work she does.
“We are happy to be a part of your work,” Hammond said as Sailors lowered their heads during the blessing.
Despite the language barrier, both parties were able to understand the common gestures of happiness and gratitude – there were many bows and hugs prior to the Sailors departure from Sachiko’s home.
“Giving back to the community is the best reward,” said Manzanares. “Seeing people’s faces and seeing how appreciative they are of us, and the fact that we care just as much about them as they care about us is the most rewarding experience.”
Bonhomme Richard is the flagship of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group.
For more information about Bonhomme Richard visit our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ussbhr.