Okinawa orphanage receives holiday cheer

Base Info
Members from the 18th Medical Group set up toys at the Ai Rin Orphanage in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 21, 2012. The Medical Group collected more than 40 toys to give Christmas presents to children of all ages at the orphanage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Jan Kolenda)
Members from the 18th Medical Group set up toys at the Ai Rin Orphanage in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 21, 2012. The Medical Group collected more than 40 toys to give Christmas presents to children of all ages at the orphanage. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Jan Kolenda)

Okinawa orphanage receives holiday cheer

by: Airman 1st Class Malia Jenkins | .
18th Wing Public Affairs | .
published: December 29, 2012

KADENA AIR BASE - Christmas is a time for giving and Kadena's 18th Medical Group gave the gift of joy to children of the Ai Rin Orphanage this Christmas.

"After returning from a deployment where I was exposed to helping the less fortunate, I really wanted to continue that here," said Senior Airman Erica Durham, 18th Medical Group command support staff. "The Angel Tree Project was something I wanted to do to spread Christmas cheer and bring some joy by volunteering my time to support the kids."

The Angel Tree Project started with the group's leadership council whose members wanted to give back to the community for the holidays.

"Maj. (James) Wealleans (18th Medical Group Leadership Council vice president) was an enthusiastic driving force behind the scenes that made this project fun, exciting and meaningful," explained Capt. Jan Kolenda, 18th Medical Group chief of laboratory services. "He really put his heart out there to make this event a success."

The group started gathering toys for the project after Kadena's Operational Readiness Inspection in late October.

Kolenda said the project was an immediate success - collecting approximately 40 toy donations for the children including 4 bicycles.

The Angle Tree Project was the organization's first exchange with children from Ai Rin Orphanage, but more plans are in the works. In March, Medical Group members plan to invite the kids on base for a barbecue and soccer game to continue building support for the orphanage.