An Inside Look: How 272 Volunteers, Dozens of Sponsors and 14 Celebrities Helped the USO Make Dreams Come True for Military Teens

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NEW YORK—When fashion designer Sherri Hill donated hundreds of thousands of dollars in prom dresses to military teens, volunteers and sponsors from around the nation stepped up to make the event as special as possible.

How many exactly?

Two hundred seventy-two volunteers donated 4,294 hours of their time, and dozens of sponsors – including  cash sponsors like CNN – donated goods and services totaling $750,000 to make the New York City version of USO Operation: That’s My Dress a success.

Forty-five Miss USA and Miss Teen USA contestants flew into Manhattan on their own dime to model the dresses in a runway show produced by the USO and TAJ Events with music by celebrity DJ Marlon Bizzy. The models also served as stylists, assisting teens in picking out the perfect prom dress and fashion jewelry.

Fourteen celebrities carved time out of their schedules to make appearances, including Sadie and Korie Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” and the reigning Miss USA Erin Brady. A dozen hair stylists and make-up artists from L’Oreal USA plus jewelry donations from Fashion Delivers helped the teens glow and glitter. And local donors like UHAUL, MTV, Neapolitan Pizza, Au Bon Pain Catering, Indelible Impact and venue managers like the Paramount Hotel and The Marriott Marquis New York helped to make the day’s event possible.

The event couldn’t have been secure without New York’s Empire Shield Task Force. And Tukaiz Marketing Services made sure it had the same look as a New York Fashion Week event.

And of course there was Hill – who has been part of every USO Operation: That’s My Dress to date and has donated more than $1 million in apparel all-time to the events.

“The support we receive from our corporate partners sends a resounding message of gratitude and appreciation to military families for their service and sacrifices,” said Brian Whiting, CEO of USO of Metropolitan New York. “This program would not be possible without the generous support of Sherri Hill and an incredible group of volunteers that traveled from more than 25 states to be with us at the event.”

It takes a village to raise a child, but takes a nation of volunteers and corporate sponsors to support and care for the children of our men and women in uniform.

National Volunteer Week: Frank and Helen Marsh

Frank and Helen Marsh represent the lifeblood of the USO: our volunteers. Frank served as a parachute rigger in the Marines from 1955 to 1957, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant before he got out. He and his wife Helen found their USO volunteer opportunity through the Knights of Columbus, where Frank has been a member for almost 50 years.

We caught up with the Marshes at the USO Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton, Calif.,  where they handed out energy bars, snacks and refreshments to wounded warriors competing in the archery event.

TEAM USO Still has Entries to the Biggest Marathons, Triathlons and Other Races of 2014

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Spring is finally here, and if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to finish a marathon, half-marathon or triathlon, you should be well into the latter part of your final training cycle.

What’s that? You haven’t started training? You haven’t signed up for a race yet? Well have no fear—TEAM USO is here!

With spots still available in the most popular races in the country, TEAM USO can help you select a race, put a fitness plan into place to get you out there in your go-fasters or tenny-runners in no time.

First step? Well, stretch, of course.

Next, visit www.TeamUSO.org/compete and select a race.

You can travel to the Big Apple for the New York City Marathon, swim across the frigid San Francisco Bay in the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon or shout along with your favorite grunts at the Marine Corps Marathon. Whichever race you choose, TEAM USO has an online fundraising tool that makes it easy to send emails to friends and family asking them to support the troops by sponsoring you.

Race with TEAM USO to help make the lives of our brave servicemen and women and their families a little bit easier by providing programs and services through our USO centers worldwide.

Video: In the Thick of the Action at the Marine Corps Trials

The Marine Corps Trials – where wounded, ill and injured Marines and Corps veterans qualify for Warrior Games – kicked off today in Camp Pendleton, Calif. The USO of San Diego supports the competition, offering on-site volunteer help and other activities throughout the week. In this video, Camp Pendleton’s Marc Diaz takes us through what it means for these injured Marines to compete at the trials.

Photos: Scenes from the USO-Supported Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton

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Adaptive sports have become a gateway to both recovery and normalcy for wounded, ill and injured troops. This week, the USO is supporting the Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where wounded warriors compete in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, track and field, swimming, archery and shooting for a chance to represent the Marine Corps in September at the 2014 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo.

-USO photos by Joseph Andrew Lee

Girl Scouts Give 731 Books to USO/United Through Reading Library at BWI Airport

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Without books to read, the USO/United Through Reading Military Program wouldn’t last a day.

That’s why huge kudos are in order for two Girl Scouts who received their Silver Awards recently after collecting 731 books for the United Through Reading library at the USO inside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The program – which the USO facilitates around the world – lets troops record themselves reading books aloud to their kids and then send a copy of that reading home to their family.

Girl Scouts Grace Kinnear and Maeve Hall hosted a lemonade stand, asked for donations at their school book fair and even solicited support from local businesses in order to meet their goal.

Grace’s grandfather, Jim Kinnear, was a motivating force behind the project. The girls were introduced to USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore through Jim’s work as a volunteer and were given a tour of the BWI center when they dropped off a cookie donation. This spurred their idea to replenish the United Through Reading library there.

When Grace and Maeve arrived with a cart full of books Jan. 27, they had an entourage of nearly 30 family members, including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Even the principal of their school came to celebrate their service. It was an uplifting scene as family and friends gathered around for the presentation, teary with pride for the girls and our troops.

–Story gathered by Lauren Hebert, USO of Metropolitan Washington