Marines, Sailors Volunteer at Boston Children's Hospital

Marines, Sailors Volunteer at Boston Children's Hospital

John Smith, a cancer patient at the Boston Children's Hospital, smiles for a photo, July 3. U.S. Marines and sailors from the USS Oak Hill visited the hospital to volunteer for the "Caps for Kids" project as part of their stay in Boston for the city's 33rd annual Fourth of July Harborfest. Photo by PFC Stephanie Cevantes.

BOSTON (Jul. 3, 2014) – During a routine accountability formation aboard the USS Oak Hill on the morning of July 2, Marines were asked who would like to spend a few hours visiting with children at the Boston Children's Hospital and Dana Faber Cancer Center on July 3. LCpl Priscilla Garza jumped on the opportunity – a chance for her to give back once again.

When Garza was 10 years old, her mother worked at a hospital in Houston. Her mother told her she should cut her hair and donate it to children who lost theirs due to chemotherapy treatment. Not fully understanding, at the time, why her mom made the suggestion, she went along with her mother's request.

Things became clearer to her as time went on as to why she donated her hair.

When Garza, and more than 80 Marines from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and 2nd Marine Logistics Group, arrived in Boston, July 1, for the city's 33rd annual Fourth of July Harborfest aboard the USS Oak Hill, she heard there was a community relations event at the children's hospital.

"My mom used to be a nurse at Memorial Herman Hospital in Houston, Texas," said Garza, a food service specialist with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group. "She suggested since my hair was long, that I donate it. I didn't fully understand why at first because it was something that I could just give them. Now that I know what it's about, I plan on giving again."

Garza said visiting the hospital brought back memories for her and she could finally put a connection to where her hair would have ended up back then. The smiles on the children's faces acted as a symbol of hope.

Garza joined one Marine and five sailors for the trip, where the service members spent an hour at the hospital and another at the Dana Faber Cancer Center across the street. The service members handed out baseball caps for the upbeat children, as part of the Caps for Kids project.

While there, Marines and sailors engaged in fun activities with the children in an effort to bring smiles to their faces.

Cpl Robert Hicks also took part in the event. Hicks has a passion for giving back to communities, especially with children.

"We played Apples to Apples," said Hicks, a food service specialist with 2nd Maintenance Bn., CLR-25, 2nd MLG. "One of the kids even taught me how to play the ukulele."

It was many of the children's first times interacting with the military, so when the Marines and sailors visited the hospital and cancer center, they were all curious about their service.

"One kid wanted to be a Marine when he grew up," said Hicks. "I told him to just stay determined and that anything was possible. It was great knowing that I could give back and make a difference. These children are our future, and I told them that they will always be in our thoughts and prayers."

Kirsten Getchell, a child life specialist with the hospital, said that the military has a long established record of visiting the hospital and that military members come back during the winter holidays to pass out toys to the children, bringing them joy in a time of need.

"It is awesome that the military takes time away from their busy schedules to come here," said Getchell.

While the Marines and sailors were visiting children at the hospital and cancer center, another group spent their time at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in the city.

The Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) is provided as a public service operated by Third Army/U.S. Army Central (ARCENT) on behalf of the Department of the Army in support of all branches of the U.S. military (Navy, Air Force, Marines) and its Coalition partners serving in the U.S. Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility.