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Misawa Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Approximately 70 Team Misawa members traveled 2 hours from Misawa Air Base, Japan, to Hirosaki, Japan, to bring holiday cheer to 38 Japanese orphans Dec. 9, 2017. During the visit, members dressed as Santa, Mrs. Clause, elves and reindeer and delivered gifts from the children’s wish lists to show them that people love and care for them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Team Misawa volunteers bring in gifts and games to the Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage at Hirosaki, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. The 35th Operations Group coordinates annually with the orphanage to provide food, games, presents and holiday cheer to the children. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Team Misawa members play with orphans at Hirosaki, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. During the event, personnel dressed up as Santa’s elves and reindeer to spread holiday cheer and take photos with the orphans. (U.S. Air Force photo Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Suree Kotecki, daughter of U.S. Air Force Capt. Steven Kotecki, the 35th Operations Support Squadron chief of analysis, walks toward a bus headed to Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage, in Hirosaki, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. The orphanage encouraged volunteers to bring as many of their children as possible to give the children at the orphanage an opportunity to play with their own small-sized American counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Peppermint pretzel snacks sit in a tray at Hirosaki, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. The 35th Operations Group raised approximately $3,750 in order to provide food, a bouncy castle and gifts from Santa during their Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage visit, letting the children know they are loved and cared for by people outside of their community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kevin Cole, a 35th Operations Support Squadron targeteer, offers a gift to a child at Hirosaki, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. Approximately 70 Team Misawa personnel traveled two hours to Hirosaki, Japan, providing children an opportunity to interact with American kids, building bonds between the United States and its host nation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

35th OG Airmen bring holiday cheer to Hirosaki orphanage

Volunteers set up lunch at Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage, Japan, Dec. 9, 2017. Team Misawa often holds events with the community to support their host nation counterparts by volunteering at orphanages, schools and elderly homes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sadie Colbert)

HIROSAKI, Japan --

On a brisk early morning, Team Misawa members suited up as Santa, Mrs. Clause, elves and reindeer and boarded a bus headed to a Hirosaki orphanage for holiday fun.

Members of the 35th Operations Group and their families brought joy to kids in unfortunate circumstances at the Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En Orphanage by delivering games, activities and presents to the residents and providing them an opportunity to play with American kids Dec. 9.

“I am happy and so are our children,” expressed Yuki Satou, the Hirosaki Ai-Sei-En lead orphanage caretaker. “They don’t usually experience different cultures, so it’s a really good experience.”

The 35th OG continued a twenty-year tradition of working with the orphanage and gathered approximately $3,750 in donations to buy 38 kids gifts off their personal wish lists.

“It’s just wonderful that these children can have a day to have fun, be kids and enjoy the happiness that most kids take for granted,” said Anna Kenkel, wife of Lt. Col. Matt Kenkel, the 14th Fighter Squadron commander, and volunteer. “This was our fifth time coming here to volunteer, and it was a good event to let the Japanese national kids interact with American children. I loved it.”

Often, children become orphaned due to abusive homes, their parents' inability to provide for their medical needs or because there aren’t family members able to take care of them.

Approximately 70 volunteers came to support the children and provided them with love and attention they might not often receive.

“It’s an awesome volunteer opportunity where we can give the kids an American-style meal and serve them,” said 2nd Lt. Taylor Hollister, the 35th Operations Support Squadron chief of targeting. “Since many don’t have a family, it’s nice for these children to interact with a family who plays with and cares for them. It shows them they’re loved and that someone’s thinking about them.”

Whether dashing through the snow in Hirosaki or volunteering outside in Misawa City’s local community, Team Misawa will always be there to support the host nation who supports them.