CNFK brings holiday cheer to local orphans
December 9, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — On what already was a happy day because of Navy’s football victory over Army, members of the small U.S. Navy community in South Korea got together Sunday to share the holiday season with a group of local orphans.
U.S. Naval Forces Korea hosted about three dozen children from the Hye Shim Wan orphanage in Seoul, turning the Yongsan Garrison Navy Club into a carnival of gingerbread house-making, games and decorations.
The Navy has had a relationship with Hye Shim Wan for about 30 years, said CNFK Command Master Chief Miguel Cisneros Jr., whose wife, Maria, organized the event with the help of the Navy Spouses Club.
The orphanage has been in Seoul since the Japanese occupation, officials said. The Navy has been hosting a holiday party for the kids as long as those at Sunday’s party could remember.
Sailors and their families also created a gift tree, allowing the Hye Shim Wan children to write a gift wish, hang it on the tree and have that wish answered by a Navy family.
“Their wishes always come true,” Cisneros said. “Whatever they want, they usually get, thanks to the sailors.”
Last year, the hot item was sneakers; this year, sweat suits.
At Sunday’s party at the Navy Club, dozens of Navy kids and Korean kids made decorations and bounced around the room, waiting for Santa Claus.
In one corner, Petty Officer 2nd Class Rachel Banks ran a game of Twister, calling out “left” or “right” in Korean.
“I don’t know ‘hand’ or ‘foot’ yet, but they get it,” she said.
Before Santa arrived, the party was treated to a surprise visit by another jolly fat man: Elvis. This impersonator, though, looked more like the svelte, early-’60s version, crooning Christmas carols as the children ate lunch.
In the future, CNFK hopes to provide the orphanage with volunteer English teachers and sailors to give computer classes, Cisneros said.