SAGAMIHARA, Japan – The 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion brought some Halloween spirit to a nearby children’s home in the form of games, candy and pumpkin carving during a visit there Oct. 23.
Soldiers and spouses from the unit, most of them clad in costumes, came to the Chushin Children’s Home wanting to give the residents and staff there an experience of how Halloween is celebrated in America.
The event was an ideal way for his unit to engage with the local community, said Capt. Christopher Washburn, a 35th CSSB company commander.
“I thought this would be an all-around great experience for both sides to share in the holiday spirit,” he said. “We jumped at this perfect opportunity.”
The children joined the 35th CSSB members in playing various games and carving and decorating pumpkins, and they received goodie bags at the end, but those were not the main factors that made the event a win for his unit, Washburn said.
“The activities and games were great, but I believe the time spent just interacting [with each other] played the largest role in the successful execution of the event,” he said.
Washburn is certain his unit had a positive experience at the event because shortly after its conclusion, many of the 35th CSSB Soldiers immediately asked him how they could facilitate another engagement with Chushin.
“I believe it is very important for … service members to be involved in their local community, especially while we are overseas,” Washburn said. “Letting the local community [experience] our culture is a great avenue for us to connect.”
Chaplain (Capt.) Justin McGregory, assigned to the 35th CSSB, said he enjoyed being able to bring the Halloween sprit to the children at Chushin and build friendships with them through holiday-themed arts and crafts. Having many of the unit members dressed up in costumes helped break the ice, even with the language barrier, he said.
“The whole concept of the U.S. Army being here is to build relationships with our host nation and with the Japanese people,” McGregory said. “This is a great way for us to do that, and it will go a lot further than if we just stay on our base.”
Mai Yamada, who works at Chushin, said she was happy to see the children enjoying their time with the 35th CSSB Soldiers and spouses at the event. Such interactions are important for them because they allow the children the chance to interact with a diverse group of adults beyond the staff at the home, she said.
“I believe today’s event will end up being a significant opportunity in which the children learn about the diverse cultural aspects of America while interacting with the unit,” Yamada said.