Heart & Soul
YOKOSUKA - “I am so amazed at what the U.S. Navy does for the little sick Japanese children,” said one Japanese mother leaving the Yokohama City University Medical Center Department of Pediatrics Dec. 19 in Yokohama. “The heart and soul these people have shown for our children is so incredible, it really gives me a lot to believe in.”
She’s talking about a recent trip made by sailors and Marines from NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka who visited the young hospital patients and hand-delivered presents that were collected on U. S. military bases throughout the Kanto Plain through the Toys for Tots program.
The U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program in the Kanto Region collects new, unwrapped toys October through December each year. Marines stand in their dress uniforms outside stores and shops braving the cold weather throughout the day to collect the toys.
Hospital staff members were overwhelmed by the generosity of the Americans who came to share toys, smiles and hugs.
“The kids are having a really hard time here and have to take a lot of exams and tests that are not very pleasant,” said Miki Takahashi, Chief of Nurses at the Department of Pediatrics. “You have changed their world and offered a bright light, if just for a moment.”
All the nurses and doctors appreciated the sailors and Marines who came, said Dr. Keita Numasawa, a senior pediatrician at the medical center.
“You have made the children and staff so very happy,” said Numasawa. “Thank you.”
For many of the young Marines who took part in the event, it was an experience they will not soon forget.
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me,” said U.S. Marine Cpl. Jackeline Serrano, Postal Clerk for NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka’s Fleet Mail Center in Yokohama. “Knowing that the children are going through such a rough time, this visit probably meant the world to them as well.”
Serrano wanted to display a positive image of U.S. military members during her visit and show that through her actions and words the U.S. military are true ambassadors of goodwill here in Japan.
Fortunately for many small children in Japan and around the Asia Pacific the young patients at Yokohama City University Medical Center Department of Pediatrics were not the only kids in need to receive a gift this year.
“Each year, as the Christmas holiday season comes around, we count on the giving spirit of our U.S. military and civilian community to give back to those who are less fortunate and give they do,” said Ray Denny, NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka Command Evaluation Director and Resident Santa. “This year, thousands of toys were donated and Santa’s such as myself along with so many helpers visited orphanages, shelters, children’s homes, institutions and hospitals all over Japan.”
Denny, who is a retired Master Chief Petty Officer and career logistician has been donning his red suit for many years and assisting NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka in getting as many gifts as possible out to children in need across the commands entire area of responsibility.
“We have also sent many gifts to the children still living in shelters near Japan’s Fukushima and Tohoku areas, which were tragically devastated by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Nuclear Reactor Disaster,” said Denny, adding that NAVSUP FLC Yokosuka has mailed and airlifted some of the donated gifts to Korea, Thailand, Philippines and other countries within the Asia Pacific in hopes of bringing Christmas joy to as many as possible.
“I got to see a very human side of Japan today,” said Serrano, adding that the fragile babies she met and smiles she shared during her visit touched her personally.