Story and photos by EA2 David Lawlor, PWD Sigonella
BUC Danny Redman (center) acts as Santa and poses for a photo with a local child, assisted by Santa’s helpers, SW2 Emily Scott(back left) and CM3 Jeffrey Jiles (right), Dec. 20, 2013, Catania, Sicily.
In keeping with the Seabee “Can Do” tradition, the Sigonella Public Works Department (PWD) Seabees brought gifts, food and cheer to the children of a local inner-city youth center. The Sailors and families of PWD Sigonella joined Talita Kum, a charity-based youth organization, for a community relations (COMREL) project to bring Santa Claus and American hot dogs to more than 100 children.
BUC Sean Walters and BU1 Lawrence Porcaro, along with Talita Kum volunteers, organized the event in the Librino Community, a district of Catania, Sicily, Dec. 20 and 23, 2013.
On the first day of the event, Santa (BUC Danny Redman) gave gifts provided by 20 participating Seabees to approximately 14 children, ages 2 to 5 years old. SW2 Emily Scott and CM3 Jeffrey Jiles, acting as Santa’s helpers, passed the gifts to Santa who then gave them to the children. “I enjoyed seeing the kids’ faces light up with joy as Santa gave them their gifts,” said Scott.
Twenty-seven Seabees, their families, and a member of Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella Security Department, held a cook-out led by MR1 Walter Hurt for approximately 100 area youths, 6-14 years of age. In just two days time, more than $500 was raised within the PWD to buy food and serving materials. Spouses also brought baked goods for the children. After the food was served, Santa made yet another visit. Santa (UTCN Robert Douglas) with help from UTCN Austin Maruyama and CM3 Jeffrey Jiles, handed out gifts provided by Talita Kum. After pictures with Santa, it was time to go.
Walters reflected on his own background when he said, “I grew up like these kids and Christmas was a time when I could really count on getting something special, no matter how much money my dad had; I just want to pay it forward.”
These highly successful events allowed many children to receive gifts that they may not have otherwise received and strengthened NAS Sigonella’s bond with the local community. For the Seabees and their families, they knew they have made a profound impact on a child’s life and their own.
Sigonella PWD Seabees organized a cookout to serve local area youths at an event coordinated with the local charity-based youth organization, Talita Kum, Dec. 23, 2013, Catania, Sicily. The organization’s name, “Talita Kum,” taken from a Bible passage in which Jesus brings a girl back to life, translates “Little girl, I say to you, get up.”