Angel Tree tradition continues at Sasebo
December 9, 2004
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — About 130 children from two area children’s homes each will receive a special gift and visit from Santa Claus thanks to church congregations at the main base facility and Hario Housing Village.
Community members donated what appeared to be a small truckload of Christmas presents through the Angel Tree program operated each year through the Religious Ministries department at both facilities.
For 13 years, administrative assistant Mari Demoto has coordinated the effort.
“I enjoy doing this for the children,” said Demoto, a Sasebo city resident. “I don’t think about doing this as part of my job because it gives me so much joy to see how happy this makes the children when they come to visit the base.”
Each year, community members select the name of a child from a Christmas tree designated as the “Angel Tree.” Then they buy a gift — age- and gender-appropriate and costing about $15 — specifically for that child, officials said.
At noon Saturday, 50 children from the Seibo No Kishi children’s home will visit the Hario Chapel to enjoy a traditional Christmas meal, meet Santa Claus, receive gifts and present a special performance they’ve practiced for the event.
“The children have worked very hard on the performance, and they are anxious to show what they have learned,” Demoto said.
In addition, at noon Dec. 18, about 80 children from Omura Kodomo Children’s Home will visit the Community and Education Center on the main base facility for a similar experience. They, too, will receive gifts collected through the program.
Both groups also will have an opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap, sing traditional Christmas carols and hear the Christmas story, said Lt. Sunny Mitchell, a base chaplain. “It gives us the chance to share our holiday from a religious and cultural point of view, while giving a nice blend of both.
“This is a good thing to do,” she said, “because it gives us the chance to reach out beyond the gates of CFAS [Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo] into the Japanese community.”
Call DSN 252-3380 for more information about the upcoming visits.