SUWON, South Korea -- During the holidays many Soldiers are away from their families, but this year instead of dwelling on that, a group Soldiers from 501st Military Intelligence (MI) Brigade decided to spend time with children that don't have families.
The unit ministry team from 524th MI Battalion organized a toy drive in partnership with 719th MI Battalion to provide orphans at the Shin-A-Won Children's Home gifts for the Christmas holiday to be delivered on Dec. 21.
Then, Saturday morning, the Soldiers and family members from the two battalions boarded a bus, or drove their own cars, bound for Suwon with the gifts and spent the day with the children.
When they arrived, the bus was met by the smiling director, David Jeong. He thanked the Soldiers and family members that took time to attend the event.
When they made it up to the gathering room on the second floor, where the children were waiting, the children's faces lit up. They saw people who wanted to give them gifts and spend time with them and knew, for them, Christmas had arrived.
The 524th MI Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Nathan Reed, who attended with his wife and son, thanked Jeong and the children for the opportunity to come and spend the day with them. He also thanked the Soldiers and family members for taking time to come out during their holiday time to participate in the event.
From there, the children were broken into age groups and accompanied by volunteers to different areas to play games and await the arrival of Santa Claus.
By the end of the day, all the children had gifts, and spent time with the volunteers playing games, sharing snacks and cookies, doing crafts and making balloon animals. As the event came to a close, 719th MI Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Billy Budd, again thanked the children's home staff and the children for allowing the Soldiers to spend time with them and wished them a "very merry Christmas."
"During the holiday times it is important for those of us who have so much to give back," said Reed. "For us to be a part of bringing joy to children who have lost their families means a lot, both to my own family, to my extended Army family, the Soldiers and family members from the battalions who donated gifts and have chosen to participate in this event. I am happy that our small act of selfless service was able to impact the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves and look forward to continuing this holiday tradition in the future."
Capt. Oleksandr Ishchuk, chaplain for 524th MI Battalion, told the group that by participating in events like this, not only will it positively impact the lives of the children at the orphanage, but their lives will be impacted as well. "We are investing in developing ourselves as leaders and as good people."
Ishchuk said he looks forward to continuing the relationship with Shin-A-Won Children's Home and is currently in the planning stages of an event to bring the children to visit the battalions at their home on Camp Humphreys.