U.S. Navy Delivers Project Handclasp to Chilean Volcano Evacuees

Story Number: NNS110613-17Release Date: 6/13/2011 3:00:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Steve Smith, Southern Seas 2011 Public Affairs

LAGO RANCO, Chile (NNS) -- Five Sailors from guided-missile frigates USS Boone (FFG 28) and USS Thach (FFG 43) delivered supplies provided by Project Handclasp to evacuees displaced by the volcanic eruption of Mount Puyehue in Chile, June 12.

Three pallets of medical and hygienic supplies from Project Handclasp, and more than 60 stuffed animals from the Loving Hugs organization were dropped off at the Liceo Antonio Varas School, which is housing more than 500 evacuees in Lago Ranco, Chile.

"I enjoyed the experience and the chance to make a difference to those whose lives were affected by such a disaster," said Cryptologic Technician (Technical) 1st Class (SW/AW) Angel Bannister, USS Thach.

The Sailors were given a tour of the facilities and met with several volunteers and Chilean Red Cross workers who discussed the volcanic eruptions and the shelter operations. Sailors also spoke with several families and answered questions from dozens of children.

"It was rewarding for me to be able to speak the language and meet with the people and share their experiences," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Carlos Ortiz, USS Boone. "They were very grateful for us being there, and very willing to share information about the volcano and how they were coping with life in the shelter."

The supplies included hygiene and medical provisions and will be used to assist the displaced families living in the shelter. The boxes included dressings, bandages, antiseptic, dental care products and other materials for basic health care.

Several volunteers and Chilean navy sailors unloaded the supplies into the school's gym where the Chilean navy band was playing for a large gathering of residents.

"We appreciate the help from the Navy," said Eduardo Holck, Lago Ranco governor. "It will make a difference to the 500 people in the shelter who had nowhere else to go. Everything helps, and everyone here is grateful for the hospitality we have received."

Project Handclasp is an official Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill materials overseas on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) support U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

For more information, contact COMUSNAVSO/C4F Public Affairs by e-mail at comusnavso-c4f_mypt_pao@navy.mil, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

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