Phi Gamma Delta at Allegheny College Raises $1,000 for USO

The first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction in support of the USO

The first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction in support of the USO

With many members who are serving or have served in the military, the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta launched its philanthropic partnership with the USO in 2011. The brothers accepted the challenge with over 30 chapters holding events and raising more than $30,000 in support of our brave men and women in uniform.

On February 12, 2013 the Pi Colony of Phi Gamma Delta at Allegheny College hosted the first annual Fiji Valentine’s Day Date Auction.  Up for bid were the brothers of Phi Gamma Delta, members of other fraternities and members of university athletic teams.   Like most date auctions, each individual lot included not just the person being auctioned off, but a useful, and sometimes unique, talent.  Buyers had choices ranging from the typical home cooked meal to trips to local establishments for a night of entertainment to the ever-in-demand cleaning service.  Groups of fraternity brothers were auctioned off for the big jobs like on-campus housing cleaning and extreme snow shoveling during the next blizzard.  The highest winning bid was for $190 for a group of twelve gentlemen from Sigma Alpha Epsilon.  At the end of the evening $1,000 was raised to benefit our servicemen and women through the USO.

“Many Phi Gamma Delta brothers proudly serve (or have served) our military, making it easy for our chapters to see the benefit their support provides. In addition, the coaching and resources the USO staff provide help our undergraduate chapters to more easily plan and execute fundraising and service events, allowing them to make a difference in the lives of our men and women in uniform,” said Rob Caudill, Director of Education, Phi Gamma Delta International Headquarters.

Going once, going twice...

Going once, going twice…

Fiji chapters have chosen to support programs like United Through Reading’s Military Program, Operation Phone Home, USO2GO, Mobile Entertainment Gaming Systems (MEGS) and Operation USO Care Package as well as in their local communities through our USO Centers. Phi Gamma Delta is on 140 campuses at the foremost colleges and universities of the United States and Canada. Service is one of the fraternity’s five values and recognizes its obligation to give back to the campuses and communities that foster its growth. - Lisa Ferrari Carter, USO Relationship Manager

Jeep Heroes Caravan

In celebration of their heroism, seven members of the U.S. Military were invited to New Orleans to attend Super Bowl XLVII and to celebrate the launch of the Jeep® Operation SAFE Return Campaign and USO Partnership. The Jeep Heroes Caravan itinerary included local food tours, a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum, lunch with Chef John Besh (a former Marine), a meet and greet with Grammy award winning Hip-Hop band, The Roots and attending the big game.

In addition, the Jeep brand has created the “Tribute for Troops” social media campaign, an effort that encourages citizens to support troops in their communities. Now through Mon. May 27, the Jeep brand will donate $1 for every person who pledges to join the movement and tweets out their efforts using the hash tag #joinOSR.

More information on Operation SAFE Return, can be found at http://www.jeep.com/OSR

Operation SAFE Return

On Superbowl Sunday, the USO and Jeep launch an initiative that celebrates and gives back to our troops — those whose work ethic, dedication and service have sustained the very fabric of this nation. “Operation SAFE Return” (OSR) aims to raise awareness and galvanize community support for returning troops and their families. As part of the initiative:

  • Jeep will contribute more than $1 million in funding and vehicles to the USO to be used in programs that directly aid service members and family in their efforts to re-acclimate to civilian life.
  • Jeep employees volunteered a ‘day of service’ at the new USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia on Wednesday, February 6, 2013
  • Now through Monday, May 27, Jeep will donate $1 to the USO for every person who pledges to join the movement and tweets out their efforts using the hash tag #joinOSR.

Learn more about last night’s ‘Day of Service’at USO.org.

Away from Home for the Holidays: USO Events Spread Seasonal Cheer to Troops and Families

Among the many sacrifices our troops make, being away from family during the holidays is near the top of the list. The USO understands this and is constantly working to make sure troops all over the world know how much their efforts are appreciated.

Here’s a brief (and far from all-inclusive) look at holiday events the USO held for troops and families in the last week:

Bagram_Air_Base

Holiday cheer in the desert. USO photo

USO Bagram Duty Manager Michelle Turner, front bottom left and USO Forward Operating Base Fenty Duty Manager Jason Lewis, center right in red, helped troops deliver Christmas cheer to Forward Operating Base Torkham in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, with a little help from Molson Air.

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Thanks to generous donations, military children in New England will get a few extra gifts this holiday season. USO photo

Thanks to generous donations, military children in New England will get a few extra gifts this holiday season. USO photo by Sarah Kelley

Instead of preselected gifts from anonymous donors, USO New England’s Little Elf pilot program allowed military families to shop for their gifts at Target. Each family was given a set amount to spend on their children, with USO staff and volunteers on hand to pay the bill with funds specifically donated for the endeavor and to wrap the gifts on site.

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Camp_Buehring_Santa

Apparently, you’re never too old for a visit with Santa. USO photo

Santa and company found ways to make things festive at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Check out their robust photo collection from December events here.

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A special guest at USO Fort Hood's Story Time. USO photo

A special guest at USO Fort Hood’s Story Time. USO photo

USO Fort Hood’s Story Time went down a different path last week when children got a visit from Santa. The recurring event–held for children up to 4 years old–featured a reading of “Santa Bear” and the distribution of stockings filled with a USO teddy bear, a juice box and animal crackers.

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Business and individuals from around the Washington, D.C., area pitched in big for USO Metro's Project Elf. USO photo

Businesses and individuals from around the Washington, D.C., area pitched in big for USO Metro’s Project Elf. USO photo

USO of Metropolitan Washington’s Project Elf brought hundreds of gifts to military children last week. USO Metro took toys and clothes purchased by donors for military kids in the local area, wrapped them and distributed them at Fort Meade, Md., and Fort Belvoir, Va.

–USO centers around the world are America’s way of supporting the troops. Show your support by making your year-end donation today here.

Eight New USO Wishbook Gifts

What’s new for the USO Wishbook this year? We have eight new gift options for you to choose from!

Flight Home Comfort Kit
For $60, make the trip home a bit more comfortable for wounded troops by helping to provide blankets and airplane pillows.

Run a Day Room for a Month
For $1,500 you can foot the bill for one of Afghanistan’s Warrior Day Rooms that give wounded ill or injured troops a refuge from the frontlines to heal.

Writing the Right Resume
For just $150, help Hire Heroes USA & the USO in our efforts to provide wounded, ill & injured troops with resumes & practice interviews that helps them to best represent their military skills & experience as they transition to the civilian sector.

Help Wounded Troops Navigate Their New Normal
$1,000 will assist the USO and AspenPointe Peer Navigator as it facilitates mentorship between community leaders and returning wounded troops.

Relaunch a Troop’s Career
With Career Opportunity Days, wounded, ill and injured troops are given guidance to secure jobs as they reintegrate into the private sector. Help for $250.

Give a Getaway to a Healing Family
Help fund retreat programs for $750 with the USO and TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) to organize getaways designed to mend families after trauma and tragedy.

Send a Military Child to Camp
Unique camps provide military children from families of the fallen or kids who have recuperating parents with getaways designed to focus on their well-being. Send a child for $500.

Keep USO Mobile on the Go
Keep USO Mobile rolling with a $500 contribution that allows the wheeled USO supply center on the road, supporting stateside troops at events and military installations.

‘It’s the Little Things’: Vet Drives 11 Hours to Donate Boxes of Supplies to USO Fort Campbell

It’s the single largest private donation ever received by USO Fort Campbell. And according to Center Director Kari Burgess-Brown, it’s also the most exuberant exchange she’s witnessed.

Jay and Kerri Giglio pose inside USO Fort Campbell, Ky., after driving from Texas to deliver 18 boxes of donated goods. USO Fort Campbell photo

Jay and Kerri Giglio pose inside USO Fort Campbell, Ky., after driving from Texas to deliver 18 boxes of donated goods. Photo courtesy of the Giglio family

For months, Burgess-Brown exchanged emails and phone calls with a passionate veteran from the Dallas area who couldn’t wait to give back to troops at his old command in Kentucky.

A veteran of 101st Airborne Division, Jay Giglio served during Operation Desert Storm, and for more than 20 years he has been working hard so that one day he might have the means to return the favor he received from generous Americans.

“At first he told us he was going to collect some things from his friends and co-workers and mail them to us,” Burgess-Brown said. “But as the weeks went by, his emails got more and more enthusiastic about the contributions he continued to receive from his community.”

Between Jay, his wife Kerri, their co-workers, and his wife’s two grown children, the Giglios gathered so many supplies that an 11-hour road trip became necessary in order to get the haul to Kentucky. In total, they collected 18 copy paper boxes full of things like snacks, games and hygiene supplies.

The Giglio's collected donation to USO Fort Campbell included snacks, games and hygiene supplies. USO photo

The Giglio’s collected donation to USO Fort Campbell included snacks, games and hygiene supplies. Photo Courtesy of the Giglio family

“We looked at the road trip as an opportunity for both of us because this is something Jay has wanted to do for a really long time, and I really wanted to see where he received his training,” Kerri Wilson-Giglio said. “I wanted to see where he was made into the great man he is today.”

For Jay, the donation was a chance to pay it forward.

“When I was at war, I remember opening a care package from a random citizen,” he said. “This person didn’t know me from Adam. In fact, I think it was even addressed to ‘Any Soldier.’ But when I opened it up and saw the thoughtful things inside, it gave me an overwhelming feeling of pride for my country.

“It’s the little things. The little things meant everything to us out there. It’s those little reminders from home, those things you can’t put a finger on that just aren’t easy to come by out there. Some of the things I remember clearly, like bobby pins and hair ties for the female soldiers. I remember crafting some of these things by hand for them because products like these were rare. The females are overlooked sometimes, and we made sure to include that stuff in our donation.”

But to Giglio’s surprise, the biggest hit within his 18 boxes of donated supplies wasn’t the bobby pins.

“When we told our guys in the field about the details of what we had coming their way, we were surprised to find out the troops were most excited about the assortment of condiments,” Burgess-Brown said.

“We had all these packets of sauce from random restaurants like Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A in our refrigerator just taking up space,” Jay Giglio said. “It was really an afterthought when we tossed them in there, but it makes sense that they would be a big hit. After all, troops must get tired of flavoring MREs with Tabasco.”

Filled with the confidence and pride of knowing their contributions were well received, the Giglio family returned to Texas with the determination to return to USO Fort Campbell each year with even more supplies for the troops of the 101st Airborne.

“I always said I would if I could,” he said. “And now I can — so I am.”

To make a similar donation, contact your local USO center or visit www.uso.org/donate.