BURUNGA, Panama (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Jackson (LCS 6) conducted a community relations project with service members from the National Air and Navy Service of Panama (SENAN).
Jackson, the third ship in the Independence-variant littoral combat ship, departed Mayport, Fld. after having completed shock trials early and successfully. Making a brief refueling stop at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the ship continued on their journey to their future homeport in San Diego.
After traversing the Panama Canal, Jackson stopped at Balboa, Panama for a three-day port visit.
On September 8, twelve Sailors aboard Jackson took time to assist Lucas Barcenas Primary School with outlining and painting a new basketball and volleyball court providing paint, tape, brushes, rollers and other supplies to help with the project.
"It may have just been painting a basketball court," remarked Boatswains Mate 2nd Class Herman Parker, "but it makes me feel good knowing that those kids now have the chance to play basketball and have an area to play on other than the muddy field."
Working around language barriers, service members from both military groups quickly established a work flow between outlining the lines of the court, taping them off and painting.
SENAN Corporal Jose Alvarado said he likes learning from different military cultures and sees that there is harmony working with the different branches.
The basketball court is just one of many projects volunteers will be doing over the next few months to help improve the school and quality of life of the students and staff.
"As a father myself, I try to give everything to my children," remarked Parker. "Knowing other kids don't, makes me want to help however I can. Every child should have a chance at everything and be given the same opportunity as other kids in the world."
Between the morning and afternoon school session, several students ventured over to the new court to see what work was being done and to converse with the service members.
A few students even tried to teach the Jackson Sailors some Spanish as they stood at the edge of the court laughing and smiling at their attempts.
At the end of the day, the school's principal, Damaris Chan, came out to thank the volunteers for their hard work and to show her gratitude on behalf of the school and school district.
Taking a group photo to commemorate the day of hard work, the service members shook hands and parted ways.
Alvarado said that it was a pleasure to work with the U.S. Navy and that he has a learned a lot from both military groups and hopes to continue to work together in the future.
"To give back to a less fortunate city and their school and just knowing they are happy makes me happy," concluded Parker. "It shows there are people willing to help with something big or small."
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