NEW YORK – Baseball season may be over in the Bronx, but New York Yankees employees were hard at work Thursday helping the USO of Metropolitan New York and its partner corporations to assemble 5,000 Big Apple Care Packs for deployed American troops.
The packs – which included items like toiletries, games, snacks and Yankees hats – are headed to troops downrange in time for the holiday season courtesy of USO partner FedEx. Volunteers from the Yankees’ front office, ESPN, Disney, FedEx and other USO of Metropolitan New York partner corporations gathered just inside Gate 2 of Yankee Stadium on Thursday morning to prepare the packs that will be ripped open by U.S. service members in the coming weeks.
Lindsy Wadas, director of the USO of Illinois’ center at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, poses with Marine Maj. Matthew Winkelbauer after he and 12 fellow Marines arrived in Chicago on Monday. Courtesy of USO of Illinois
Here at the USO, we’re lucky to get to do things on a large scale for America’s troops and their families. But it’s the little, serendipitous events that come together each day at USO centers around the world that keep us going.
On Monday, 13 Marines on the tail end of a five-day trip home from Afghanistan got a surprise they’ll never forget, courtesy of a web of people who’d likely never met and an enterprising USO of Illinois volunteer. In the course of a few minutes, the Marines went from a routine approach for landing at Chicago O’Hare International Airport to getting a water-canon salute on the runway and an impromptu greeting at the gate by members of Chicago’s police and fire departments, USO of Illinois volunteers and airport personnel. Once they were in the terminal, American Airlines offered up six first class upgrades to the Marines for free for their flight to San Diego. And when the Marine contingent boarded the plane, seven other first-class passengers gave up their seats so the Marines could sit together.
Read how one Marine’s fiancee, roughly 30 of Chicago’s finest, one USO partner, seven strangers on an airplane and a host of airport workers and USO volunteers – including 74-year-old former Marine John Colas, who coordinated it all – made this moment happen.
Christina Ambrose, a duty manager at USO Camp Buehring, Kuwait
Christina Ambrose has always been a strong supporter of American troops, even before she became a duty manager at USO Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
Her family volunteered at USO South Carolina and she fell in love with the organization once she started joining them. When asked if she was interested in a full-time position in Southwest Asia, she jumped at the opportunity. She’s been a USO employee for more than a year and loves coming into work every day.
“We have such an amazing staff and our volunteers truly are the heart of our center. They never cease to amaze me with their humor, creative ideas and their passion for our mission.”
The USO staff and volunteers organize lots of fun events and programs for troops at Camp Buehring, but one in particular sticks out for Ambrose.
“I had literally just arrived in Kuwait earlier in the week, and [the Halloween Zombie 5K Run] was the first event I took part in. So, I started off my USO career being chased by zombies.”
Thankfully, those zombies never got to her, and Ambrose is still fully committed to lifting the spirits of troops and their families.
“I love everything that the USO stands for, and to be a part of such an incredible organization and help fulfill our mission is such a rewarding feeling.”
Event emcee Dennis Haysbert and 2013 Spirit of the USO Award recipient David J. McIntyre talk about why they support the USO at the 2013 USO Gala:
The 2013 USO Service Member Honorees stopped by to chat with our cameras Friday night at the USO Gala in Washington. Check out what they had to say:
Here’s a look inside the P&G Beauty and Grooming Lounge this afternoon before the USO Gala at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. P&G sets up a salon for service member honorees and their families to have their hair and makeup done professionally and for the honorees themselves to get fresh shaves.