SIGONELLA, Italy - In keeping with the Seabee “Can Do” tradition, the Sigonella Public Works Department (PWD) Seabees stepped into bringing 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 troubled children.
Chief Builder (BU) Sean Walters and BU1 Lawrence Porcaro organized the event with Rocco and Alicia, two of the lead volunteers, to take place on two days December 20 and 23 in the Librino Community, a district of Catania, Sicily.
On the first day of the event, Santa, portrayed by BUC Danny Redman, gave gifts provided by 20 participating Seabees to roughly 14 children ranging from ages 2 to 5 years old. Steelworker 2nd Class Emily Scott and Construction Mechanic (CM) 3rd Class 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 Sigonella Security Department held a cook-out headed up by Machinery Repairman 1st Class 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, portrayed by Utilitiesman (UT) Constructionman (CN) Robert Douglas with help from UTCN Austin Maruyama and CM3 Jeffrey Jiles, handed out gifts provided by Talita Kum of Catania. 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!