Children’s Village superintendents Harry and Lillian Matsumoto with incarcerated orphaned babies. In the background you can see part of one of the dormitories for children, and the rustic wood fence and shade structure. (Lillian Matsumoto Collection, NPS)

The public is cordially invited to join park staff and others over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 2-6) in preserving Manzanar’s Children’s Village, the only World War II Japanese American incarceration camp orphanage.

Former Manzanar orphans Karyl Matsumoto and Lillian Ogata Bonner will participate.

Consisting of three one-story buildings, Children’s Village was established as a result of an order by the U.S. Army that orphan and foster children of Japanese ancestry were also to be incarcerated with their Japanese American caregivers. Originally, 61 children from various orphanages and foster homes were brought by bus to Manzanar in June 1942. A total of 101 children would eventually be confined at the Children’s Village until the orphanage closed in September 1945. (Source: Densho)

There will be a group dinner and presentation about Children’s Village Saturday evening (6-8 p.m.) at the Lone Pine Smokehouse that anyone, even if they are not working at the volunteer project, can attend.

Much of the planned work can be physically demanding. Previous experience is helpful, but all that is really needed is a willingness to get dirty. The main work will consist of rebuilding the rustic wood gazebo and fences that were at the orphanage, resetting building footers, and installing a few signs. Volnteers will also be raking leaf duff, pruning trees, pulling weeds, and using wheelbarrows to move dirt.

Up to 25 volunteers a day can be accommodated. Volunteers must be at least 15 years old and be able to work outdoors. Volunteers must sign up in advance and may work any number of days or hours, but a full day or multiple days are preferred. Work will be conducted regardless of weather, so come prepared, bring water, lunch, snacks, sunscreen, hat, and work gloves.

Volunteers will meet each day at 7:30 a.m. in the Visitor Center parking lot and work until 3:30 p.m.

Volunteers should RSVP as participation is limited. Email Jeff Burton at for more information and to sign up. Manzanar National Historic Site is located nine miles north of Lone Pine and six miles south of Independence on the west side of U.S. Highway 395. Learn more at or explore “ManzanarNationalHistoricSite” on Facebook and “ManzanarNPS” on Instagram and YouTube.

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