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    Generosity knows no boundaries: Marines, Sailors bring Christmas spirit to Sicilian orphanage

    Generosity knows no boundaries: Marines, sailors bring Christmas spirit to Sicilian orphanage

    Photo By Gunnery Sgt. Bryan Peterson | Marines, sailors and Siciilians dance during a Christmas party at the Giovanna Romeo...... read more read more

    BELPASSO, Italy – Since he was a little kid growing up in Titusville, Florida, his parents taught him giving to those in less fortunate circumstances means a world of difference “to those who receive.”

    In high school, 1st Lt. John M. Cabbage and his family picked names from a jar during Christmas time and donated food, toys and other necessities to families in need. He continued this generosity during his time at the U.S. Naval Academy to children in and around the Annapolis, Maryland, area.

    Now Cabbage finds himself and more than 300 Marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-CR-AF deployed to Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy, where he “still wanted to do the same thing.”

    “It became a tradition growing up,” said Cabbage, who is the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa Headquarters Company officer in charge. “Giving to those in need has no boundaries.”

    Cabbage saw the opportunity to continue his annual tradition when he saw a signup sheet for a Christmas party at the Giovanna Romeo Sava Orphanage in Belpasso, a 30-minute drive north of NAS Sigonella.

    He teamed up with U.S. Navy Lt. Derrick Horne, the SPMAGTF-CR-AF chaplain, and more than 30 Marines and sailors, Dec. 22, with donated food, toys and the Christmas spirit in tow and visited the orphanage where children awaited their arrival.

    The night started off with the Marines and sailors making reindeer candy canes with the children, while playing and interacting with one another. Soon after, orphanage staff had the children sit on the floor while Marines and sailors disappeared for a brief moment.

    Looking around and joking with each other, little did they know what was about to happen next.

    “Merry Christmas!” shouted the service members as they had the undivided attention of everyone in the room. They passed out gifts to the children and celebrated with them as they opened the presents.

    “The night was complete when we saw those smiles,” said Cabbage.

    “My Christmas is complete when we can touch those who don’t normally receive presents during Christmas like we do,” added Petty Officer 2nd Class Christopher Bulloch, a religious program specialist with SPMAGTF-CR-AF.

    The night wouldn’t be complete without some Christmas songs. Later in the evening, Marines and sailors cleared their throats and sang Christmas carols such as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “Jingle Bell Rock.”

    Sister Miriam Venialgo, a nun who runs the orphanage for the Salesiana of Don Bosco, an international Roman Catholic religious institute that cares for homeless and poor children, said the Christmas party was a great way to get everyone together to share “this special time of year.”

    “We have the [U.S. military] come out at various points in the year to help out with landscaping or building projects,” said Venialgo. “But, this time of year is important because we can come together and enjoy Christmas for what it is and that is giving our time to those who are in need.”

    Horne said the Christmas season is about giving and he couldn’t be more proud of the Marines and sailors who not only donated gifts to the children at the orphanage, but their time as well.

    “Christmas away from home is always hard. Many of our Marines and Sailors are experiencing this for the first-time and unfortunately there are some who have been absent numerous times,” said Horne, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native. “When you have an event like this one it brings a joy in spite of our separation from family. Smiles and laughter was not just on the faces of the children that received the toys and stockings but on the faces of the sailors and Marines as they gave them these special gifts. It was an incredible experience and I enjoyed so much watching the interaction.”



    Date Taken: 12.24.2015
    Date Posted: 12.24.2015 03:28
    Story ID: 185304
    Location: BELPASSO, IT 
    Hometown: TITUSVILLE, FL, US
    Hometown: TULSA, OK, US

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