It’s a Care Package Stuffing Party…in Rome!

Boy Scout troops # 236 & 961 along with Girl Scout troops # 74, 75, 76 & 406 met at USO Rome on December 5 with their donations of baked goodies, holiday decorations, and various other items in order to stuff care packages to send to deployed troops in Iraq & Afghanistan for the holidays.  This fun day of volunteer service produced 45 USO “Rome away from home” care bags which were shipped through the APO to USO centers in these areas as well as individually named deployed troops.  The scouts also started a new USO Rome tradition of putting up the center’s Christmas Tree and providing much USO holiday cheer!

Hey Kids – Holiday Coloring Sheets are Here!

We here at the USO wish you a happy holiday season from our family to yours, and this holiday season we have an extra special treat for the children.

Click on any link underneath the pictures below to download a pdf coloring sheet…just for military kids! Cartoonist Paul Boscacci, the creater of the “Fort Knox” comic strip, has created exclusive pictures for “military brats” – like him! Print one out and color it for a loved one who’s in the military. Share them with friends and family. Send one to a service member overseas…or right next door. But most importantly, have fun!

Coloring Contest! We almost forgot to mention: we want to see YOUR colorful creations.  After you’ve finished one of these pictures, share it with us by having Mom or Dad help you scan it or take a picture.  Then send an email with your picture to our blog team with the subject heading “Holiday Coloring Contest.”  Our top entries will be featured on this blog all throughout the week of December 27th!

“Sending a Care Package to Dad”

“USO Balloons…Away!”

“A Visit with Santa”

“Playtime at the USO Center!”

“Enjoying a USO Show with my Family”

From the Desk Of…

SVP of Communications John Hanson:

The USO in Afghanistan, Part 2
(read Part 1 here)

In Afghanistan, the USO faced a challenge.  We exist to serve the needs of troops – especially those at the tip of the spear.  In past wars, it wasn’t so hard.  We could build USO centers at large and medium-sized bases and feel confident that we’d be there for most of the people serving in an area.

Afghanistan is different.  Our center in Bagram – the Pat Tillman Memorial USO – is an outstanding facility, operating at capacity more than 20 hours each day, but not everybody goes through Bagram.

A view from inside the Pat Tillman USO. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

But, how can we get to the troops who are in the most isolated  (and unforgiving) locations?

Of course, many of our entertainment tours visit large and small bases.  If we can get the lift, we’ll take performers to remote outposts.  One of those performers  is Toby Keith.  Toby makes time available to the USO every year – usually just before summer – to spend more than a week in the war zone.  He will do large shows at large bases, but he insists on visiting forward operating bases and combat outposts.

After one of his trips, Toby looked at the USO representative on the tour and said, “If I can go there, why can’t the USO?”

So, we created what we call the USO in a Box.  It’s a transportable container that expands to about the size of a two-car garage.  These units contain laptop computers, a projector for watching movies and video game consoles.  They can connect to existing power, or they can on the power produced by a generator.  Three of these centers are located around Afghanistan (and we just sent one to Djibouti). And, they can be moved, if the troops move.

They provide a touch of home and a place to relax after a difficult day.

Thanks, Toby, for the challenge and for encouraging us to do more.