CJTF-Haiti reaches out to children, community

17 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Mike J. Escobar

“When I was hungry, you fed me…  When I was naked, you clothed me… When I was thirsty, you gave me to drink.”
Navy Capt. Ronnie King, Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti’s chaplain, quoted these words of Jesus Christ, as he acknowledged troops from Combat Service Support Detachment-20 and CJTF-Haiti’s troops who spent time with and distributed supplies to the children of the Good Samaritan orphanage here June 17.
“I’ve been very impressed with the orphanage from the first time I saw it, from the good living conditions of the children to the special emphasis that (the staff) places on education,” the Coldwater, Miss. native stated.  “Just like in America, the children are the nation’s future, so it’s great that the staff works so hard to educate and change the way these children think.  This is a big part of the reason I like seeing (CJTF-Haiti forces) donate to this orphanage.”
Although King organized the June 17 trip to Good Samaritan, CSSD-20 has been doing weekly trips to this orphanage to spend time with the kids and distribute toys and supplies.
For this trip, the detachment helped distribute hundreds of its own bottled water and nine pallets of potato chips that the Army Air Force Exchange Service provided; however, they are only two groups that helped improve these childrens’ lives, King stated. 
“My mother and some friends helped collect about $3,000 worth of clothes and school supplies, and the Camp Lejeune community donated additional toys, books and clothes,” King stated.  “Most of the stuff we donated came from the Lejeune area.”
Support from people back in the United States also came from members of the 1st Baptist Church in Dallas.  King thanked Navy Chaplain Randall Clarke, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force-8 chaplain whose parents are members of the church, for helping to coordinate the collection of supplies.
King also said he and the orphanage staff were grateful toward CJTF-Haiti service members who donated items, and those who volunteered their time to help distribute toys and entertain the children.
“The kids are always happy to see (CJTF-Haiti personnel) come here,” said Astrel Vincent, a pastor and manager of Good Samaritan.  “We appreciate all the time that you spend with us and the donations we’ve received, and we always pray for the troops.”
Vincent said the orphans are overjoyed whenever military personnel visit them, and that he feels these visits are great for community relations.
“Our mission here in Haiti is to provide security and stability to the country, and a great way of doing that is by winning the hearts of the people by reaching out to them and earning their trust,” King stated.  “It’s little things like these that help us accomplish our mission.”