URUMA CITY, Japan --
A gentle breeze filled the air during a clear, sunny day on Okinawa. In the parking lot of Camp Courtney’s bowling alley, members of the local and U.S. communities from Uruma City gathered together to participate in a city-wide cleanup, Oct. 5.
Smiles and handshakes were exchanged as everyone greeted each other with, ‘ohayo gozaimasu!,’ the Japanese greeting for ‘good morning.'
The Camp Courtney Single Marine Program coordinates the cleanup every month to provide U.S. service members the opportunity to volunteer for community service, and to build friendly relationships with the local community.
Everyone received a pair of rubber gloves and a plastic bag before starting the cleanup. When everyone was ready, the volunteers began their cleanup from Camp Courtney to Uruma City Hall.
“You want to get involved with the community. Bringing all of us together is a great thing. We have different people, different nationalities, different ethnicities, all coming together as one to help this city keep clean.” Pfc. Tony Achondo, a motor vehicle operator with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division
All participants were quick to make friends with each other as they began exchanging jokes and engaging in conversation. As the volunteers made their way through the streets of the city, everyone picked up bits of trash they could find along the side of the road. Soon enough, everyone reached the city hall, tired from hard work but smiling, having made new friends.
“I think this is a good event for the service members and locals to interact,” said Corey Carter, a coordinator with the SMP.“ It’s not necessarily a cleanup, but more about friendships and bonding," he said.
The SMP serves as the voice for single Marines in identifying concerns, developing initiatives, and providing, recommendations through advocacy, recreational activities, special events and community involvement.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Kindo Go
A member of the local community gathers trash during the monthly Friendship Cleanup in Uruma City, Okinawa, Japan on Oct. 5, 2019. The Camp Courtney Single Marine Program coordinates the cleanup every month to provide service members the opportunity to volunteer for community service and build friendly relationships with the local community.
The SMP encourages participations for their events and invites service members help in improving the quality of life single and unaccompanied Marines.
“It’s important to participate, especially if you live on base, you’re still part of the community out in town,” said Carter." It helps bridge gaps between Okinawans and our service members. It’s important to introduce all the young Marines to the Single Marine Program. It gives them opportunities to do something constructive. It’s more than just getting a letter of appreciation. It’s doing something out of the kindness of your heart and doing it for those feel good moments," he said.
For more information on events in your area, or to get involved, please contact your unit SMP representative or visit the SMP office on your camp or station.