Care Packages – What It’s Like on the Receiving End

Regular blog readers often hear about our USO Care Package stuffing parties.  Just within the last few months we’ve had the kid’s one, the one just for families, the Female Care Package, and the one that engaged celebrities.  And those don’t even include the almost-weekly “regular” care package stuffing parties that happen without any fanfare and with the support of hundreds of volunteers.

The story we don’t often tell – simply because we often don’t know – is what happens with the care packages after we bag and box them up, and send them off to airports and centers around the world.  How do Troops react when they receive their care packages?  We’ve worked hard to create a program that fulfills the requests of things we’ve been told that Troops want to see in the care package.  But are we right?  Are they getting what they want and need?

Imagine our excitement when we received this story from USO Pat Tillman Programs Manager Charlotte Del Vecchio:

“These Marines were stranded at the Airfield with all of their bags stuck on a pallet elsewhere. They were headed down range and the Squad Leader came into the center and wanted to know if we had any toiletries to hold them over. We did better than that, and distributed the care packages to them, within 30 minutes of the request.  The Marines were so grateful – and they loved the calling cards and gummy lifesavers too!”

Awesome!  Thanks, Marines, for your service.  We’re glad to make the trip a little better for you. Have YOU received a USO Care Package?  What did you like about?  What can we improve?  Let us know!

Ride 2 Recovery Wraps Up the Texas Challenge!

You’ve probably already read about the beginning and middle of Ride 2 Recovery’s “Don’t Mess with Texas” Challenge.  Now read the final chapter on this amazing experience!

The group headed from Fort Hood to Waco on day four.  The support was overwhelming, including a special visit from Maj. Gen. Will Grimsley, deputy commanding general for III Corps and Fort Hood.  “This is really a ride for inspiration for the rest of us,” Grimsley said.

One rider explained how the time together on the road was affecting the cyclists:  “The groups are really starting to solidify and the group camaraderie could not be higher. The wind really helped out. There are so many great stories to tell. One rider…is riding a hand cycle. He has never used a handcycle until this ride and so far has made every mile.

Riders were welcomed by Fort Hood's senior leadership and then cheered on by thousands of motivated troops, who lined the road for 4 1/2 miles on both sides of the road.

Day five the riders were starting to appreciate the finer points of pack riding, mastering skills that even accomplished riders have a hard time with.  Groups of recreational cyclists showed their support by joining the group along the way, the biggest being “Team Texas,” a group led by Tony and Big Ed. They have really helped out and organized he warriors into impressive formations. By riding in the group, the participants are able to stay together and better enjoy the countryside.  Support from the American Legion riders, and the Legion Auxiliary was tremendous.  The dinners were especially appreciated!

The biggest group of recreation cyclists to ride along since the beginning has been the "Team Texas" group led by Tony and Big Ed. They really helped out and organized he warriors into impressive formations. By riding in the group, the participants were able to stay together and better enjoy the countryside.

The final day found the riders on the road from Cleburne to Arlington.  Their final destination was Arlington Ranger’s Ballpark, where special guest Nolan Ryan was waiting to greet the group at the finish ceremony, along with Duane Wagner, a highly decorated Viet Nam Veteran, who would throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game.

Before arriving at the ballpark, though, it was time for one more special group of cyclists to join along: the Texas Rangers brought ‘em home in another R2R first, as the group rode together for the last 20 miles instead of the usual five. Lots of laughter and nostalgia filled the air.

Welcome to Arlington.

As the riders left the town of Cleburne on their way to Arlington, the town in between - Keene - had a special welcome for the riders. They had lined the street with American flags and the Mayor and other civic leaders had a ceremony to welcome the participants.