SAGAMIHARA CITY, Japan – More than 100 volunteers gathered Sunday at the Sagamihara City Shindo Sports Park for a community cleanup – the fourth such four-party event to help strengthen community partnerships in the last two years.
U.S. Army Garrison Japan, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces at Camp Zama, and Sagamihara and Zama cities agreed to jointly host twice-yearly cleanup events in the local community to celebrate their longstanding friendship while providing residents the chance to work together on community service.
Sunday’s event included dozens of U.S. Army in Japan community volunteers, to include Soldiers, civilians and family members. Volunteers represented multiple groups, including the Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program, Zama Middle High School and Arnn Elementary School, Cub Scout Pack 34, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, among others. They joined an equal number of Japanese volunteers and city staffers for the early morning event.
Sagamihara City Mayor Kentaro Motomura provided opening remarks to welcome all the attendees since his city and staffers served as the lead host, providing all the supplies needed as part of a larger, citywide cleanup at nine different locations.
Motomura thanked the volunteers for the work they would provide that day, and stressed how it would benefit future generations.
Following the opening ceremony, volunteers donned their gloves, grabbed their garbage bags and tongs, and worked side by side to clean the park.
Camp Zama BOSS President Spc. Michelle Antonio said her organization’s Soldiers joined the event to help represent the Army and to let the community members know they want to be involved.
“We are part of the Army, but we also care about the community,” she said. “We appreciate them letting us be here and we are showing our support.”
One of the younger volunteers, 7-year-old Addie Helvey, said she had joined other volunteer events in the United States, but that this was her first chance to volunteer in Japan.
Addie said she had one goal with her volunteerism: “I’m picking up trash so the animals don’t get sick.”
USAG Japan Commander Col. Marcus Hunter joined the event with members of his family, and with USAG Japan Command Sgt. Maj. David Rio. Hunter said he was impressed with the number of volunteers.
During closing remarks, Hunter thanked everyone for attending the early-morning, weekend event.
“It’s a wonderful example of service, and leadership, and care for our neighbors,” he said.