ODESSA, Ukraine — Sailors aboard USS Taylor (FFG 50) took time during exercise Sea Breeze 2010 to deliver Project Handclasp supplies to the Lastochka Orphanage in Odessa, July 16.
Besides delivering the humanitarian and goodwill supplies to the orphanage, Taylor’s crew also spent time playing soccer with the children and repainted the orphanage’s fence.
“It’s a great opportunity for the ship’s personnel to interact with some of the people of Ukraine,” said Navy Ensign Kelly McWhorter, Taylor’s community relations coordinator. “It certainly enhances [Sea Breeze] and it shows that we are not only dedicated to the military mission, but also to the local population.”
Lastochka Orphanage cares for 114 children without parents, ranging from toddler to early teens. The children were very friendly and eager to share their day with their new friends from the U.S. Navy.
“We are very grateful for [the sailors’] visit today,” said Lastochka Orphanage Director Sasha Chemenchenko. “A small project like this makes not only a big impact on the kids, but all the [orphanage staff] and parents. Even people driving by slow down when they see [U.S.] sailors working here at Lastochka.”
The children danced and played soccer with the sailors in the morning and the Sailors repainted the fence to the entrance of the orphanage after lunch.
“To be a part of something like Project Handclasp is a tremendous experience,” said Navy Electrician’s Mate 1st Class (SW) Gary Lamar, a sailor attached aboard Taylor. “It really shows how we as a Navy and also as American people are committed to our global neighbors.”
Taylor, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate homeported in Mayport, Fla., is currently participating in Sea Breeze, a two-week maritime exercise designed to enhance interoperability and maritime security operations of developing Black Sea nations. 1,600 military and civilian members from Azerbaijan, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Moldova, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States are participating in Sea Breeze, making it the largest exercise in the Black Sea this year.