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SOUTHCOM, JTF-Bravo spread holiday cheer at local orphanage

By Staff Sgt. Austin M. May | Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs | Dec. 12, 2007

COMAYAGUA, Honduras — COMAYAGUA, Honduras - Servicemembers from Joint Task Force-Bravo and U.S. Southern Command helped spread a little holiday cheer at Hogar de Niños Tierra Santa orphanage here Dec. 8.

More than 130 pairs of shoes were delivered to the children who call Hogar Tierra Santa home, according to Air Force 1st Lt. Brian Robinson, platoon leader of JTF-Bravo's Army Forces Search and Rescue team, which sponsors the orphanage.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Glen Spears, U.S. Southern Command deputy commander, and 13 other servicemembers from SOUTHCOM visited the orphanage along with the ARFOR team to "show how much we in the U.S. care," the general said.

Lieutenant Robertson said the shoes were paid for by SOUTHCOM and purchased by JTF-Bravo Civil Military Operations office, or J9.

"The J9 Team worked very hard getting all the appropriate shoes and sizes for each child," he added. The lieutenant said all five orphanages sponsored by a JTF-Bravo major supporting command would receive shoes purchased by SOUTHCOM.

The benefit of this "mission" on an immediate level was that each child of the five JTF-Bravo-sponsored orphanages received a pair of shoes and a small taste of the holiday spirit that most children enjoy, Lieutenant Robertson said.

"The deeper, more meaningful result is fostering good community relations and strengthening the partnership between JTF-Bravo and citizens of Honduras," he continued. "To have a chance to touch the lives of these children on a personal level is certainly a very special opportunity."

General Spears acknowledged how special the opportunity was when he addressed the volunteers who delivered the shoes to the orphanage.

"For us, this is an exciting two hours," he said. "But for these children, we are making a lasting impact on the rest of their lives."

General Spears also recognized the efforts put forth by everyone involved in the visit in a brief speech he gave to the children and workers at Hogar Tierra Santa. "We are very proud of what the men and women of JTF-Bravo have done with this orphanage," he said.

Some of the major supporting commands have organized other events to benefit their specific orphanages during the holiday season, such as activity days on Soto Cano and toy collections.

United States military personnel assigned to JTF-Bravo have supported more than 500 children at five different orphanages in the Comayagua Valley since 1997. Volunteers spend time interacting with the children, donating supplies, and doing construction work on the buildings in which the children live.