Makin Island Sailors Support Community Outreach Programs in San Diego Area During December 
From USS Makin Island Public Affairs  
SAN DIEGO - Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) have donated hundreds of hours of volunteer service this month by participating in a variety of community outreach programs in the San Diego area during December.

The programs included several events at two area elementary schools, helping to distribute holiday gifts to families in need in San Diego County as part of the Angel Care for Kids program, and assisting Naval Medical Center San Diego with a shoe and clothing drive for the local offices of the Salvation Army.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Roy Hoffman, Makin Island's command chaplain and community relations program coordinator, more than 100 Sailors directly support the Navy's community service program objectives this month by making a difference in the local community including strengthening education, providing humanitarian assistance, and supporting the quality of life in the San Diego area.

"Their presence as ambassadors of goodwill for the Navy and role models to members of the community, particularly youth, and their willingness to volunteer their time is a reflection of the caliber of people we have in the Navy," said Hoffman.

Hoffman said that the Sailors who have taken part in reaching out to these schools and the community have found the impact on the one who is serving others is often as great as the impact on those who are served.

"To see the light in a child's eyes, to help clothe the homeless or feed the hungry, to cast a vision of a world where people are committed to one another's well being - these are acts which lift all of us up," said Hoffman. "In this season of giving, we all learn the deeper truth that it is more blessed to give than to receive."

Makin Island volunteers supported nearby Oak Park Elementary School and Music Conservatory on multiple days, attending a fifth grade band concert in the school's auditorium as well as a special "December Nights" concert in San Diego's Balboa Park.

Nine Makin Island Sailors also attended a special "Tempo Tuesday" assembly Dec. 18 at Oak Park that included the kindergarten students performing for parents and other invited guests.

Oak Park school officials said they invited the Makin Island Sailors to the events as a way to inspire students to work and study hard while in school.

"It's an opportunity for the kids to see how hard the Sailors work and protect them," said Reashon Villery, of the Oak Park Elementary School principal. "Letting the kids see all the Sailors in their uniforms gives these kids something to strive for."

Sailors who participated in the events at Oak Park said they enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the children and bring the Navy to the school.

"It was great to be there for the kids, they are very gifted," said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class William Kueffoua, assigned to Makin Island's supply department. "It was really nice to see all the kids so excited, it's nice to be here and show them a little support."

As part of the ship's community service efforts in December, Makin Island's Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) chapter also took the lead in sponsoring an "Angel Tree" gift program for 100 needy children at Willow Elementary School in neighboring San Ysidro, Calif.

CSADD members placed a Christmas tree in the crew's mess with ornaments for each child stating their name and age, so that members could pick gifts to fit each child. Gifts were distributed to the students Dec. 19 by a team of CSADD volunteers.

"Passing out all the gifts to the kids was magical," said Seaman Andrew Breunig, a CSADD member assigned to Makin Island's deck department. "Many of them ran to the stage with big smiles and the look in their eyes was priceless. Being able to help the kids have a good Christmas was great; it's always good to give back to community.

Earlier in the month, members of Makin Island's First Class Petty Officers Association (FCPOA) joined other military and local volunteers Dec. 16 to help distribute 3,000 presents to needy families at Cajon Valley Middle School in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, Calif., as part of the Christmas for Kids program.

"It feels so good to see the smiles on the faces of the children when they walk away with a present," said Ship's Serviceman 1st Class Chequera Sullivan, the FCPOA member who coordinated the ship's participation in the program. "This is exactly the kind of impact we in the First Class Association want to have on the community."

Leadership at all levels on board Makin Island works to inspire Sailors to strive for excellence and continuous improvement. The ship's commitment to schools in the local area, as well as other initiatives that seek to improve people's lives, is a key component of the command philosophy.

Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved over $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

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