BELIZE CITY, Belize (NNS) -- Sailors from the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) participated in community relations (COMREL) projects in Belize City during a port visit May 28.
Kauffman visited Belize as part of a theater security cooperation visit in support of Southern Seas Deployment 2009.
Members of the crew presented Project Handclasp material to the Belize Defense Force during a morning ceremony. Project Handclasp is a collection of donated items delivered by the U.S. military to countries in need around the world. The delivery in Belize included medical supplies and toys for children.
After the ceremony, the crew continued to the Stella Maris School Belize Academy for the Deaf, where they painted, assisted with minor foundation repairs and interacted with the children at the school.
"It feels good to help out these children," said Electrician's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Demetrious Hayes. "This is something that we all want to do. Everyone here is a volunteer. We do this every port we hit, and it's always a great feeling to be able to help out like this."
Lt. Cmdr Jose Molina, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 40 chaplain, was the lead organizer for both events.
"This is all part of a dual humanitarian aid project; the first part is where we go to a school or a designated area within the community and do light repairs; the other part is Project Handclasp donations," said Molina.
"What we're doing here is all about being partners and helping each other out. It's a great experience, not only for me, but for our Sailors to come ashore, roll up their sleeves and lend a hand."
Kauffman is on a four-month deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean as part of Southern Seas 2009 in support of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)'s Partnership of the Americas initiative.
Southern Seas is a deployment that focuses on conducting exercises, military-to-military engagements, and theater security cooperation engagements enhance relationships with partner nations in the SOUTHCOM Area of Focus, which encompasses the Caribbean, Central and South America and surrounding waters.
This year's deployment includes Kauffman, USS Doyle (FFG 39), USS Ford (FFG 54) and is executed by DESRON 40 as CTG 40.0.
For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.