CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Nov. 19, 2019) -- A little more than a month after making care packages for orphaned children in Japan, Sgt. Day'ion Womack got to put them directly in the hands of some of the young recipients.
Womack and seven other Soldiers with Camp Zama's Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, or BOSS, delivered several boxes of the care packages to the Sagamihara South Children's Home and Seikou Gakuen orphanage in nearby Sagamihara City Nov. 15.
Sagamihara South personnel will distribute the majority of care packages to other orphanages in Japan, but enough were set aside so that the Soldiers could personally hand one to some of the young residents there.
"Kids are just the joy of the world, so it felt really good getting to see … them smiling and playing," said Womack, assigned to the 88th Military Police Detachment here. "It makes me happy to bring a smile to a child's face."
The Soldiers put the care packages--drawstring backpacks filled with candy and school supplies--together in Tokyo in October alongside former NBA players Chris Bosh, Shawn Marion and Dikembe Mutombo as part of the "NBA Cares" program.
Randy Benton, the special events coordinator for Camp Zama's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, was at the event in October with the NBA players, but said getting to "complete the circle" of their efforts by delivering the care packages to the children is "the best part of it."
"I think it is important for the community to realize that the single Soldiers here do care about their community," said Benton, who is also the BOSS adviser. "It is important for me to see the young Soldiers dealing with other young people and realizing that it is really important for them to interact with their community."
Sachio Soga, the director at Sagamihara South, said the children there had been told about the Soldiers' visit beforehand and were looking forward to seeing them. They were genuinely happy to receive the care packages, Soga said, as evidenced by several of the children shouting "Kakkoii!" which means "Cool!" in Japanese.
"We really appreciate that Camp Zama staff and the Soldiers took the time to visit our children and deliver the gifts to them," said Soga. "Everyone was excited to show the staff what they got. We'd love to continue building the relationship with Camp Zama as neighbors."
The Soldiers did the same at the Seikou Gakuen orphanage, giving each of the children there a care package and smiling as the children thanked them in Japanese. They responded in kind before being led on a tour of the children's recreational, studying and dining areas, and their rooms.
Meeting the orphaned children held a special significance to Womack, he said.
"When I found out the care packages that we were making were going to orphanages around the local community, it touched me, because I was adopted straight from birth," said Womack. "It's good to get out and volunteer and do something that is worthwhile, something that is bigger than yourself."
Pfc. Jeselyn Alcantara, assigned to Public Health Command -- Pacific, said she enjoys volunteering and giving her time, but this event in particular was special to her as well.
"A lot of people volunteer, but most of them don't get to see directly the impact they have on a community or on a person," said Alcantara. "It was really great to see how the kids reacted and how everything came together. Knowing that something as little as giving a gift or some school supplies to someone can affect them in a positive way is very meaningful."