HIROSAKI, Japan -- With children and adults alike counting down the days to Christmas, Team Misawa service members and families visited with orphans living in Hirosaki, Japan, bringing community and holiday cheer, Dec. 8.
Members of the 35th Operations Group (OG) hosted the event, sharing the holiday spirit by giving presents and participating in various activities with the kids at the Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage.
“I think it’s spectacular we have an opportunity to reach out as far as Hirosaki and share with our host nation,” said Lee Anne Moeller, wife of Lt. Col. Christopher Moeller, the 13th Fighter Squadron commander. “Both U.S. and Japanese kids had a blast playing with each other, providing another way to boost relations with our friends.”
Misawa Airmen and families delivered games, activities and presents to the residents and provided an opportunity to intertwine the two cultures.
“The kids loved the cookie decorating event because this is the one and only time of the year they get to do it,” said Makito Kasae, a Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage caretaker.
The 35th OG continued a 20-year tradition of working with the orphanage and gathered approximately $5,000 in donations to buy 40 kids gifts from their personal wish lists.
“For this event, we wanted the children to enjoy the holiday atmosphere and experience different cultures,” Kasae said. “Everyone was able to happily play together and participate in fun, competitive events; that’s what we want the most for the kids.”
Often, children become orphaned due to abusive homes, their parents' inability to provide for their medical needs or because there aren’t family members able to take care of them.
“Not only did we accomplish bringing a Christmas celebration to the Hirosaki Orphanage, we helped ensure the children felt noticed and loved during this holiday season,” Moeller affirmed. “Being there for them, I believe, is the most important part.”