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Marines Lend Gentle Hand To Orphanage
by USMC Lance Cpl. Brianna Turner - October 26, 2011

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Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Cottrell, a communications technician controller in support of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, watches television with children of the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Quezon City, Philippines, Oct 22, 2011. More than 30 Marines volunteered their free time to visit the orphanage during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012, which is an annual bilateral training evolution between the armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. service members. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Brianna Turner
Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Cottrell, a communications technician controller in support of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, watches television with children of the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Quezon City, Philippines, Oct 22, 2011. More than 30 Marines volunteered their free time to visit the orphanage during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012, which is an annual bilateral training evolution between the armed forces of the Philippines and U.S. service members. Photo by USMC Lance Cpl. Brianna Turner
 QUEZON CITY, Philippines (10/22/2011) — U.S. Marines in support of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade visited the Gentle Hands Orphanage in Quezon City Oct. 21-23 as part of a community relations event during Amphibious Landing Exercise 2012.

Gentle Hands, a Christian child and youth welfare agency, provides shelter and care to children ranging in ages from birth to high school.

The orphanage is currently home to 50 people.

“Hospitals will call me and ask, ‘Do you want this baby?' and my answer is always yes,” said Charity Graff, the owner of Gentle Hands. “I know that when the hospital calls me, it means they have no where else to go.”

Graff's mother started the orphanage in 1990 as a birthing clinic for those who could not afford proper medical care. Graff began working there in 2000 when she was approached with a malnourished baby.

“Someone handed me the baby, and I went straight to the hospital,” she said. “They told me he couldn't stay there because he was going to die. I was horrified, but I took him home. I fed him, and I cared for him. That boy is now in the third grade. He was adopted by an American family, and he is perfectly healthy.”

During the first visit Oct. 21, the Marines helped move rebar and bags of cement for the renovation of the orphanage, watched movies with the young children and played basketball with the older ones. The following day, they delivered food and medicine to the Malabon community, as well as sang, played basketball and spent time with the children. On the final day, the Marines returned to the orphanage to spend some additional time with the children from the orphanage.

“Events like this will build memories that last a lifetime,” said Navy Cmdr. Jack L. Caver, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade chaplain and native of East Alton, Ill. “It's really nice to be able to give back to
the community. We're showing gratitude for the things they do for us.”

Community relations projects like this one not only benefit the community, but also helps the Marines see how much they have to give.

“Taking someone out of their comfort zone to see people who have so much less is truly humbling,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Cottrel, a communications technician controller in support of 3rd MEB. “We, as Americans, sometimes forget how much we have, and it's essential that we find time to give back.”

More associated images in frame below

By USMC Lance Cpl. Brianna Turner
III Marine Expeditionary Force / Marine Corps Installation Pacific
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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