When raising 12 children, there’s no such thing as extra time.
Laurie Leder will be the first to tell you. She’s the busy, busy spouse of Army Staff Sergeant Tim Leder, stationed at Fort Belvoir, Va. While she may not have a lot of spare time, she values community service so much that she and her whole family make time to volunteer with the USO.
Laurie started volunteering after she received a video in the mail from United Through Reading, a USO partner. When she put the disk in the player she saw her husband in his camouflage uniform, alone in a chair, reading bedtime stories to her kids from a base in Iraq. Tears streamed down her cheeks.
“Every single night the kids could put the disk in and listen to him read a story to them,” she said. “A lot of times people don’t realize how big something that small is, especially when you have little ones who wouldn’t otherwise remember him after being gone for a year.”
Her oldest is 20—too old for bedtime stories—but her youngest is only nine months. All of her kids are home schooled, and Lori encourages every one of them to join her in volunteering at the USO as soon as they’re old enough.
“I feel like my family has gotten way more from the USO than I can ever hope to give back, so when it comes time to teach my children about community involvement and volunteering, the USO is at the top of my list.”
With so many USO programs and activities on and off base, every member of the Leder clan finds something to do. Laurie herself assists with stuffing care packages and hosts weekly coffee meetings for military spouses on base.
Her older teenagers help lift heavy crates of food at the farmers market, the 10- and 11-year-olds watch younger children during the morning coffees, and even her 8-year-old enjoys handing out popcorn and drinks to soldiers watching movies on the lawn.
“When you’re reaching out to other people, you realize that you have more than you think you do,” she said. “So it’s not extra time—it’s time well spent.” – Joseph A. Lee, USO Staff Writer