USO Korea brightened the days of more than 6,000 soldiers stationed across the Korean peninsula this month with stockings full of goodies donated by Operation Give. As part of USO Korea’s Operation Christmas Cheer program, soldiers from the northern Camp Stanley to the southern Camp Henry and everywhere in between received a friendly knock on their door from a USO volunteer bearing a special surprise: a stocking overflowing with books, playing cards, calendars, personal hygiene items and snacks.
“I knocked on so many doors to give gifts my knuckles are bleeding,” one soldier-volunteer joked after the event, which went from Dec. 18 to Dec. 25.
The efforts of the volunteers who stuffed stockings in the U.S. and the 90-plus volunteers who distributed those stockings in South Korea were clearly appreciated. The USO received positive praise from key base personnel and soldiers in all four USO Korea service areas. But the shocked grins and heartfelt thanks from service members across Korea were the best rewards.
One soldier was so grateful that he took the time to email the young stocking stuffer back in the U.S., whose email address was included in the stocking.
“The USO just came by our barracks roughly 30 minutes ago and gave myself and many other soldiers in our barracks a beautiful Christmas stocking with all kinds of goodies,” the soldier wrote. “I wanted to say thank you … [T]hank you for making my lonely holidays better. This will be the [sixth] Christmas I spent away from my family, so the more times I spend away from my family the harder it gets to feel the “Holiday” cheer. [B]ut young American’s like yourself and the incredible USO [v]olunteers (on the “CC”) make me feel much better. … Thank you again for the outstanding gesture and the great feeling of warmth from across the waters.”
As evidenced by this email – and thanks to the hard work of all of the USO volunteers in Korea and the U.S. – USO Korea can declare this mission accomplished. Thanks again to Operation Give for their support of the troops, and happy holidays.
–Story by Laura Martinez, USO Korea Programs Manager