SEOUL - A small group of Soldiers from Camp Stanley\'s 304th Signal Battalion, along with the camp's commissary store manager, arrived at Myung-Jin Orphanage in Kang-Dong-Gu Jan. 7 with a truck-load of school supplies and other 'goodies' for approximately 100 children.

Capt. Suk Kim, chaplain for the 304th, said, "We have been building a relationship with Myung-Jin Orphanage since 2004 but, since 2007, we have become more actively involved in their affairs; with assistance from the Camp Stanley community: Army Substance Abuse Prevention office; the commissary, Pear Blossom ladies..."

Kim said the 304th routinely provides the children with school supplies, clothing, candy and English lessons. "Today," he said, "we are delivering approximately $1500 or more in goods."

Support for the orphanage is the battalion commander's program, says Kim, but it is operated by the chapel. He estimates approximately 50 soldiers are actively involved in the program but - two to three times a year - as many as 120 orphans and their teachers are invited to Stanley for bowling, soccer or barbeques, and can involve up to 130 community volunteers and Soldiers.

"This whole thing is for helping relations between Korea and the United States government," Kim said. "We do this from our hearts; with love and respect towards the children. This way we can show them (children and teachers) the reason we are here in Korea."

Commander of the 304th, Lt. Col. Alfred Francis, in addition to wishing the children a "Happy New Year," told them, "Coming here is really a happy thing for us. We're going to have a Spring Festival for you in April. We hope you will come visit us and have some fun."

Afterwards, Francis and his group passed out bags of goodies to the children present. Less than half of the 100 children living in the orphanage were present to receive gifts. The majority were away visiting relatives for the holiday season.

Jessica Crowl, Camp Stanley Commissary manager, explained that some of the children have distant relatives and occasionally get to spend time away from the orphanage.

"We've been supporting requests to provide goods to the orphanage every since I've been working here," said Crowl. "Anytime they bring me a memorandum requesting support, we provide donations ... cookies, candy, drinks, juice, fruit, gift certificates, whatever our vendors are willing to donate and depending on the request."

Crowl said she tries to visit the orphanage as much as possible when invited by the 304th. "I enjoy being around the children but, she said, "today was very sad. One of the little boys was so gloomy and I asked him why. He said his friends (from the orphanage) were away visiting relatives. He said, 'I am nothing. I have no one.' My heart was broken."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16