How Canadian Navy Sailors Brought Christmas Joy to an Orphanage in Chania, Greece

The Lookout navy newspaper reported that Canada’s Navy Vessel, the Charlottetown is “currently deployed on Operation Reassurance in support of NATO’s assurance and deterrence measures…and assigned NATO tasks.” But that’s not all that this vessel and her crew accomplished over the holiday season — thanks to the ship’s padre, the crew made a stop at the Greek island of Crete and made Christmas a very special time of year for a group of orphans in Chania.

Sailors from the ship were very enthusiastic after the Charlottetown’s Padre, Lt(N) Haupi Tombing made the initial arrangements for the crew to lend a helping hand at an orphanage. As soon as the sign-up sheet went up, it filled up so fast that even the padre was surprised.

“The ship’s company was really excited with the project. The sign-up sheet filled quickly and we even had to refuse some people as we didn’t have enough space to bring everyone on the bus,” Padre, Lt(N) Haupi Tombing said.

The orphanage, according to the padre, in need of a helping hand is called Branch of Protecting Children and is a part of the group called Young People of Chania, which organizes orphanages for boys and girls in Greece. Branch of Protecting Children is an all boys orphanage that homes 31 young boys and also provides them with education, helps the boys finish high school and college, as well as providing the resources to be self-sufficient as adults.

On the grounds of the orphanage, the sailors provided manual labor by repainting the basketball poles and guard rails on staircases, landscaping, cleaning the grounds and gardening.

After the work was done they joined the boys and staff in the orphanage for Christmas carols, and of course, Santa made an appearance, bearing gifts for the children.

“That was a great day. It was Christmas in true Canadian spirit: Giving! We achieved a large amount of work and made the backyard and playground a much more inviting place for the kids of the orphanage,” said Padre Tombing. “The work took us half a day, but the impact will most likely remain with the kids for a long time.”