BUSAN, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), embarked U.S. 7th Fleet staff Sailors and Korean Navy Sailors combined efforts during a community service project at the Hee-Rak-Won Orphanage March 6 to spend quality time with the children who live there.
While there, the Sailors played with dozens of children, ages four to 18, cleaned common areas throughout the orphanage and even taught the children a few English words. They also delivered 50 boxes of donated toys and clothing compliments of Operation Goodwill as well as some well received cookies from the ship's bake shop.
"I had a great time," said Yeoman 2nd Class Tonisha Mitchell, a Blue Ridge Sailor who volunteered for the event and enjoyed spending her afternoon with the children. "The children were so grateful to get the gifts. It made me feel good."
Deputy Director of the Hee-Rak-Won Orphanage, So Ang Park, said they get a warm feeling every time the Sailors visit the children.
"The U.S. Sailors open the minds of the children by teaching them new English words and because they represent a different culture," said Park
Blue Ridge Chaplain Lt. Steven Benefield coordinated the event.
"It's difficult for us to go underway and leave our families," said Benefield. "But coming here again, it's like seeing family."
The Sailors left one last gift as they departed, giving away their command ball caps to the children in return for another fun-filled visit to the Hee-Rak-Won Orphanage.
"I like doing community service with kids," said Quarter Master 3rd Class Mary Fornoff as the Sailors concluded their visit. "Getting to play with kids, you get to be a big kid yourself."
Blue Ridge is commanded by Capt. Thom W. Burke and serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force (CTF) 76, the Navy's only forward deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.
For more news from USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), visit www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.