425th ABS, NATO members spread cheer at local children’s hospital

  • Published
  • By Tanju Varlikli
  • 425th Air Base Squadron host nation advisor

Service members from the 425th Air Base Squadron and NATO Headquarters Allied Land Command, along with local national volunteers from the Izmir civilian community, visited a local children’s hospital in Izmir, Turkey, Dec. 16, 2021.

The volunteers and their spouses sang Christmas carols and New Year songs and handed out toys to more than 60 children receiving care at Dr. Behçet Uz Children’s Hospital.

“The visit was an uplifting occasion,” said Lt. Col. Todd Rotramel, 425th Air Base Squadron commander. “A lot of people volunteered their time to get this important outreach program done. The visit was quite an occasion for the children as well as our community members. The support received from Team Izmir members for this project has been phenomenal and overwhelming.”

The community prepared for about a month for the outreach, collecting more than 60 gift items that 425th ABS and NATO service members then delivered in person. Upon arrival at the children's hospital, visitors were greeted with smiling faces in the hospital wards as they interacted with their guests. After singing Christmas carols and New Year songs by the New Year tree set up and decorated  by the volunteer squadron members at the oncology unit of the hospital, 425th ABS and NATO members then distributed the gifts.

“Thank you very much for all the support given to all the children and making a difference in their lives. We look forward to future visits,” said Ülkü Belkıs Karlı, Dr. Behçet Uz Children’s Hospital Child Foundation director.

Many in attendance said they were moved by the importance of the outreach program and grateful to be part of such a rewarding experience.

“Our children are truly gifts from above and none deserve to endure the pain and suffering that sickness brings,” said Capt. Paul Snyder, 425th ABS installation chaplain. “As we walked in, the faces of the parents and children lit up. There seemed to be a renewed sense of strength and encouragement brought to the children and parents as we greeted them, sang Christmas carols and New Year songs and handed out toys. They were happy that someone cared but even more joyful that Americans and Turks took time out of their day to come and offer hope.  But really we were more humbled that they allowed us to come and share a moment in their lives; that was the real joy.”