MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 171 hosted a Christmas party for a local orphanage.
Marines from MWSS-171 welcomed children from Yahata Gakuen Orphanage to open gifts, play sports, eat lunch and explore U.S. military vehicles such as a Humvee, a heavy equipment vehicle and a tractor, rubber-tired, articulated steering and multi-purpose vehicle.
“Being an ambassador of our nation in this country, it is important to foster a positive relationship with our host country,” said Heather Mota, Family Readiness Officer for MWSS-171 and Marine Aerial Refueler Transport (VMGR) 152.
Santa Claus and his elves made a guest appearance to give gifts to the children. The children from the orphanage were also assigned to a family from MWSS-171 and received presents based on their gender and age.
“We had an ‘angel tree’ set up in the main foyer of the squadron and families sponsored each individual child,” said Mota. “It’s just a blessing to make a difference, especially during the holidays.”
Children from the orphanage bonded with Marines from MWSS-171 by playing ping- pong, cornhole and basketball.
The event also featured several bounce houses for the younger children.
The Christmas party ended with the children being introduced to military vehicles. With assistance from the Marines, they were allowed to climb inside and have their pictures taken.
“It was so heartwarming to see how excited the children were just to do something as small as eat pizza or see the military equipment,” said Lorrie Smith, a station resident. “It really makes you think twice about all of the things we have and what we take for granted.’’