Volunteers keep community clean
Fifteen years ago, the Korean American Partnership Association, a Korean government sanctioned non-profit community/volunteer service program was created to build friendship between the two countries. Service members, Families and Korean natives volunteer together through KAPA, doing a variety of activities every month.
"KAPA was created to help strengthen the Alliance between Koreans and Americans," said Air Force Technical Sergeant (Ret.) James Dunnet, the outreach coordinator at KAPA and a native of Freeport, N.Y. "By working together, volunteers and Koreans can learn about one another's language and culture."
Twice a month KAPA hosts "Troops for Trash," where natives of Korea and youth from nearby youth organizations volunteer alongside Americans picking up trash in the community on Saturdays.
Troops for Trash always begin with a brief history lesson on the U.S. and its involvement in the Korean War by Dunnet, and a group picture of all the volunteers for that day.
Korean and American volunteers armed with tongs, gloves and bags take to the streets picking up trash in the 'ville' just outside of Camp Humphreys and Osan Air Force Base.
Once the 'ville' has been thoroughly cleaned, the group is led on a long walk in the community, leading to a four-mile hike to a small mountain in Pyeongtek and eight-mile hike to Buraksan Mountain in Osan.
"You don't get to the top of the mountain by sliding there," said Dunnet. "But, climbing the mountain can be a lot of fun with KAPA. Try it, and you will like it."
Picking up trash in the streets is more than just walking, but an opportunity to get some exercise on the weekends and explore the city.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring a small amount of Korean Won in case they want to purchase snacks or other goodies along the way.
After earning 40 hours, all volunteers are given an official certificate from the Korean government and a KAPA commemorative coin. U.S. Soldiers can earn a Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal after 100 hours, and community service recognition on their resumes for civilians.
Once a month volunteers can also help Korean youth ages 10-18 learn how to speak English.
Flyers containing a complete schedule of KAPA events can be found at the Community Fitness Center on Camp Humphreys, the fitness center at Osan AFB and many other places at both locations. For questions, you can contact James Dunnet at 010-6285-9966 or by email at Jamesd940@gmail.com.