VICENZA, Italy- By tradition the festive season is the time of year when children spend time with families and receive their gifts. Not all children may enjoy this experience, especially some who live in orphanages or come from dysfunctional families.

After researching in the area, two associations in the Vicenza military community, the European Region Warrant Officers Association and the Vicenza Gospel Service found out about the existence of a local SOS Children's Village and decided to visit it and make a donation including food, toys and a monetary offer to the local Vicenza SOS Village before the holidays Dec. 15.

The SOS Village is an international organization with local chapters throughout the world, which has been working to meet the needs and protect children since 1949.

"The center provides a family environment accommodation to children from dysfunctional families," said Warrant Officer 4 Joachim Cosiglio, U.S. Army WOA European Region director, who participated in the event.

"The SOS Village of Vicenza essentially recognizes the right of the child to grow and be educated as part of their own family or in a family atmosphere. Therefore, the primary objective is the promotion of the development of the child.

"Thanks to educational-therapeutic offerings, the ultimate goal is the return of the child to his or her family or the continuation of hospitality, to find their place in society and take upon themselves the ability to structure their lives independently and rich in values."

SOS Village in Vicenza has been operational in the territory since 1981 and currently helps almost 120 children up to 18-years-old.

Since its origin, the center has developed and today it is an integrated facility recognized by the Comune di Vicenza, and offers accomodation in 13 units and also provides semi-independent housing programs for youth and helps them integrate into the labor market.

According to Consiglio, particular emphasis is put on keeping children from the same family together in order to promote the maintenance of strong bonds.

While introducing the facility to the visiting American families Vicenza SOS Village vice-president Maria Teresa Capanna said, "We are thankful for your nice visit and your contribution. Your help is much appreciated especially now that financially the government supports 60 percent of the program.

"Many projects and assistance are now provided because of the presence of many volunteers."
After bringing the donations and a moment of prayer, the participants moved to the administrative area where they were welcomed by some SOS Village staff members who prepared some refreshments, especially for the numerous children who shared the visit with their families.

"We hope to develop some projects in the near future with the American community," said Rosa Del Carmen Trevisan, SOS Village pedagogic secretary.

One of them could be the maintenance of the existing playground at the center, which is open to the public with the condition that children are accompanied by one parent.