Donations bring joy to children
By Master Sgt. Michael Farris, 353rd Special Operations Group Public Affairs
/ Published February 21, 2003
CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines (AFPN) -- The left-handed nine-iron was a little tattered around the edges, showed a few scars and had been discarded by someone who had no more use for it. Remarkably, it had a lot in common with the 10-year-old boy who was delighted to be its new owner.
It did not matter that Jerome Espinoza had never stepped foot on a golf course. The orphaned boy from central Philippines was happy to receive the club as part of the 353rd Maintenance Squadron's donation to the Clarkview Christian Center near the sprawling airpark here.
The squadron, from Kadena Air Base, Japan, was recently serving temporarily in the Philippines for an exercise.
Squadron airmen handed over tons of clothes and toys to Pastor Thomas Tioaquen, who oversees the center and two similar organizations nearby.
"These kids have very little and are incredibly resourceful," Tioaquen said. "If they find a rock and a piece of string, they'll make a toy."
For the near future, that resourcefulness will not be required as piles of new basketballs, volleyballs, books, encyclopedias and a mountain of clothes were delivered to the center that caters to some 60 children, ages 1 to 16.
In a goodwill effort, members of the 353rd MXS also emptied their pockets to hire a dentist, two doctors and a nurse to visit the center for a full day. According to Chief Master Sgt. Perry Pettiford, a few maintainers collected $316.35, which provided 165 children with various medicines, dental fillings and general health check-ups.
"It's amazing how much good you can do with just a few resources," Pettiford said.
These donations are the latest installment of the squadron's Clothing Connection - which makes contributions to orphanages, community centers, senior's homes and churches throughout the Pacific. The Clothing Connection receives contributions from various sources throughout the Kadena Air Base community.
Pettiford and a handful of co-workers also paid $720 to dig a well and install a hand-pump in Marcos village near the base. They built a reservoir, toilets and installed 200 feet of pipe.
According to Lt. Col. William Davis, 353rd MXS commander, the water will improve the lives of more than 500 villagers.
"In addition to drinking water, this project is critical for livestock and irrigation of crops," he said. "Until now, water had been hand-carried from a contaminated stream several hundred yards from the village."
"To say we felt warmhearted is an understatement," Pettiford said. "The villagers insisted we accept a few souvenirs like spears, crossbows and bow-and-arrow sets as a token of their gratitude. The smiles on their faces was enough thanks for me."