Okinawa Marines, Sailors feed less fortunate children

Base Info
Okinawan and American children play on the playground during a community outreach event, at Yugafu Church, Okinawa, Japan. Marines and Sailors with 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade provided food for less fortunate children during the event. This was the second time 3D MEB Marines and Sailors have participated in what will become a quarterly event. During the first, a Thanksgiving dinner, 3D MEB Marines and Sailors provided food for a total of 100 people at the church. (Photo by Cpl. Jessica Etheridge)
Okinawan and American children play on the playground during a community outreach event, at Yugafu Church, Okinawa, Japan. Marines and Sailors with 3D Marine Expeditionary Brigade provided food for less fortunate children during the event. This was the second time 3D MEB Marines and Sailors have participated in what will become a quarterly event. During the first, a Thanksgiving dinner, 3D MEB Marines and Sailors provided food for a total of 100 people at the church. (Photo by Cpl. Jessica Etheridge)

Okinawa Marines, Sailors feed less fortunate children

by: Cpl. Samantha Villarreal, III Marine Expeditionary Force | .
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published: March 10, 2017

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Bailey, a native of Lincoln, Nebraska, said Marines often lend a helping hand to feed Okinawa’s hungry. Once per quarter, the Marines and Sailors of 3D MEB conduct similar events, like the Thanksgiving dinner that fed 100 people this year.

Bailey said these events are part of an ongoing project, led by Yugafu Church, called the Two Fish Project. The project involves church members providing home-cooked meals and homework help to local children.

“(The volunteers) primary focus is feeding kids that generally wouldn’t get a meal,” said Bailey. “This might be the only meal they’d get in a day.”

Naoya Shingaki, a volunteer at the church, said he appreciates the help of U.S. service members. Shingaki, whose grandparents lived during World War II, said some Okinawans are troubled by the past, but explained that he judges everyone by their present actions. Many Okinawans recognize the positive contributions of U.S. service members and love them, he said.

The Marines not only prepared meals for the children, but also spent time with them afterward.

"We just want to give (our) time," said Sgt.Maj. Mario P. Fields, the sergeant major of 3D MEB and III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group. “And to me, that’s the most important thing that a Marine, Sailor or family member can give.”

Fields said he enjoyed volunteering during the event and hopes to be a part of more community outreach efforts in the future. He explained how good it feels to selflessly help others and build long-lasting relationships.

“We all come over here on two or three year orders, but the relationships, from what I’ve learned, last forever,” said Fields, a native of Jacksonville, Florida. “This is my second tour over here, and I still have relationships ... with people I met ten years ago.”

To volunteer for events like this, contact Navy Cmdr. Ray A. Bailey, the 3D MEB chaplain, at DSN (315) 623-7474.