May 22, 2008
Marine Corps News|by LCpl Daniel R. Todd
KORAT, Thailand - To help improve the standard of living in a small, poverty-stricken community in Korat, Thailand, service members participating in Cobra Gold 2008 and Thai officials organized a charity event May 12.
"After seeing the little kids without clothes, light, electricity or food we decided that this was the best place to do a community relations project," said Master Chief Petty Officer Jay Stuckey, the U.S. Navy senior enlisted member for Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific, Camp Smith, Hawaii.
The group delivered more than 200 hygiene kits, which included hand sanitizer, soap, antibacterial wipes and other hygiene products. They also handed out toys, including stuffed animals and soccer balls, to the children.
Boy Scout Troop 248 from Aeia, Hawaii, provided the hygiene kits that were collected during an Eagle Scout project. Service members participating in Cobra Gold donated the money.
The people cheered loudly while welcoming the service members with flowers and hand-made necklaces, a gesture that the service members said brightened their rainy day.
A few service members said the pouring rain was unpleasant, but as soon as they saw how happy the people were, it took their mind off of everything else. They all agreed making the people smile and bringing a little joy to them was worth bearing the rain storm and getting a little dirty.
The service members also said the resilient nature of the locals left an impression on them.
"It was a very humbling experience to see how happy the people can be with so little," said Master Sgt. Henry Sutton, postal chief with Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Forces Pacific.
"It really made me appreciate what I have a lot more and showed me how blessed I truly am."
For Petty Officer 2nd Class Christian Montano, an aviation electronics technician with Fleet Readiness Center Northwest, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington, the experience was an eye opening one. He said he never thought that a small plastic bag containing a few hygiene products could make such a big impact on people.
"Coming here and having this opportunity to bring joy to these people really made me realize how much I should appreciate the little things in life," Montano said. "I think everyone should jump at an opportunity like this if they ever have the chance. It is just an overwhelming experience."
© Copyright 2008 Marine Corps News