USS CARL VINSON (NNS) -- During a May port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, crew members from the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)/Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 team passed up some liberty time to spread good will by participating in several community relations projects.
Eighty-six crew members participated in five community relations projects, which combined for a total of 476 man-hours.
"Although Gold Eagle Sailors donate huge amounts of their time, talent and labor in foreign ports, they always receive back much more than they give," said Carl Vinson Chaplain, Lt. Dan Berteau.
The Sailors and Marines visited Al Noor Training Centre for Children with Special Needs, The Dubai Autism Center and the Dubai Club for Special Sports. They also volunteered to load a large truck with donated supplies for the Al Ihsan Charity, a benevolent organization for homeless and unemployed women and children in Dubai. The Gold Eagle protestant choirs combined their shared musical gifts with the local Baptist congregation at their weekly Friday Sabbath services.
May 25, two groups departed Carl Vinson to travel to the Al Noor Training Centre and the Dubai Autism Center. The Sailors and Marines were greeted enthusiastically at both places. The crew members interacted with these special needs children and teens in a number of ways, including playing basketball and ping-pong with their hosts.
"The children laughed, played basketball, and table tennis with our crew and filled our 'Gold Eagle' volunteers up with joy and pride, making us wonder who was most helping whom," Berteau said.
Al Noor Training Centre caters to children and teenagers with a variety of mental and physical disorders. The Gold Eagle team donated several items, including sewing machines, to the center through Project Handclasp, a charitable organization that accepts donations from individuals and corporations from around the globe.
The Vinson team said they were moved by the friendly nature of the students, who were eager to make friends with the visiting Sailors.
"The things we did at the school, like play a game of basketball with some kids, might not seem like a big deal to us, but I realize they can mean a lot to those who are less fortunate," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Bomba, who took part in the Al Noor Training Center project. "When I think about it from that perspective, I realize what I am doing is a lot more valuable than a few extra hours of sleep or some extra time out in town."
The Gold Eagle Soccer Team also traveled to the Dubai Club for Special Needs and took on a local hearing-impaired soccer team. Following the action, gifts were shared and positive interaction with the local community was garnered.
Fifteen Vinson volunteers braved the searing Jebel Ali heat as they loaded goods destined for the Al Ihsan Charity. These Project Handclasp donations included medical and hygiene supplies. This completed Carl Vinson's deployment goal to deliver more than 10 pallets of Project Handclasp materials.
The Gold Eagle Protestant choirs performed at both morning services at the Emirates Baptist Church in Dubai later in the week.
The Carl Vinson Strike Group is currently deployed in the Persian Gulf. The strike group is conducting operations in support of multinational forces in Iraq and maritime security operations in the Gulf in order to set the conditions for security and stability in the region.
The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is comprised of Carrier Air Wing 9, Destroyer Squadron 31, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54), the guided-missile destroyers USS O'Kane (DDG 77) and USS Mustin (DDG 89), the fast-combat support ship USS Camden (AOE 2), and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, Det. 9.
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