U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting, or ARFF, held a Christmas party for the ARFF Tsuta Orphanage at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Dec. 10, 2016.
ARFF holds the celebration annually to help spread holiday cheer to the orphans and to bring service members, their families and Japanese together.
Activities such as a bouncy house, Christmas cookie decorating and games were available to the children during the event.
Marines volunteered their time and provided the children with a homemade, American meal.
ARFF shared Christmas dinner with the orphans and workers from the Tsuta Orphanage to help their relationship grow.
“Sitting down to eat is something everyone does,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Israel Booth, aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist. “We’re all able to join in communion and through fellowship we’re able to create bonds and bridges with each other.”
After dinner a special guest came to greet the children. Santa Claus sat in a red sleigh and passed out presents and candy canes to the children.
“Marines were given the name, age and gender of a child from the orphanage,” said Lance Cpl. Allison Jenkins, administration clerk and aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist. “We were able to get gifts for them and make the event come together.”
Jenkins also said seeing the kids brighten up was the best part. They run up to people and give them high fives and despite the language barrier the children are still happy and laughing.
Marines from ARFF have celebrated the holidays with their sponsored, local orphanage since the 1990s to spread Christmas spirit.
“Events like this may seem small, but they’re important,” said Booth. “Any time Americans and Japanese come together as one big happy family, where we can sit down, eat and have a good time is significant to building that relationship we have with the Japanese.”
Story by Lance Cpl. Gabriela Garcia-Herrera