BLUEFIELDS, Nicaragua (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines embarked aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) gave their time and effort to revitalize Las Carmeles Park in Bluefields, Nicaragua, Sept. 21.
A new backboard for the basketball court, new playground equipment, trash removal, and a fresh coat of paint were the benefits provided by service members participating in the project as part of Continuing Promise 2010.
Cmdr. Tim Oswald, Iwo Jima command chaplain, emphasized the importance of participating in charitable activities as a way to connect with one's fellow man abroad.
"The direct impacts you have on individuals are long lasting," said Oswald. "It (charitable work) creates a greater sense of our global community and shared humanity."
Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Shane Hotzenbiler, of Wilmington, N.C., took pride in knowing his efforts in improving the park made it a better place for children to play.
"Our work gives the children a better soccer field, and the playground gives the small children somewhere to play," said Hotzenbiler. "Seeing the smiles on the children's faces, makes my work fulfilling and doing projects for children has made the Continuing Promise 2010 mission worthwhile for me."
Cryptologic Technician Interpretative 2nd Class Alicia Williamson, of Arlington, Texas, said she understands that cleaning up a park can have a larger impact than some may realize.
"It's good to have a positive presence in Latin America," said Williamson. "Some of these Latin American countries are undecided about their opinions on the United States, and projects like these show we have friendly intentions."
Community relations projects have provided an opportunity for approximately 500 servicemembers aboard Iwo Jima to participate in the Continuing Promise 2010 mission.
The humanitarian mission has provided an opportunity for ship's company to interact with, and have a lasting impact on residents of host nations.
"I hope the mission reinforces a volunteer spirit," said Oswald. "They'll (service members) want to give their time, their energy, and their resources in service to others. I think volunteering is one of America's virtues, and its one of those things that makes us special."
Continuing Promise 2010 is a humanitarian civic assistance (HCA) mission. The assigned medical and engineering staff embarked aboard Iwo Jima will work with partner nations' teams to provide medical, dental, veterinary, and engineering assistance to eight different nations to improve mutual understanding of current medical issues.
For more news from USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd7/.