Apple Valley Optimist Club Recieves USO/Optimist International Patch

Members of the Apple Valley Optimist Club at Los Domingos on April 2, 2013 (Photo Credit: Apple Valley Optimist Club)

Members of the Apple Valley Optimist Club at Los Domingos on April 2, 2013 (Photo Credit: Apple Valley Optimist Club)

The Apple Valley Optimist Club has reached their goal of raising $1000 to support United Through Reading’s Military Program. The USO along with its partner United Through Reading® give deployed troops the opportunity to record themselves reading books to their children, and the recordings are then mailed back to the family along with a copy of the book.

“Think how wonderful it would be for these children to have something so memorable, not to mention the moral support this offers to the parent at home,” Apple Valley Club Chairwoman Julie Whittingham said.

For the past year, the Apple Valley Optimist Club has tirelessly held various fundraisers to support this program. Some of the events the club held includes partnering with their local Barnes & Noble’s to gift wrap books over the holidays. The club also had a booth at a local festival fairgrounds passing out information to the general public asking them to step up and support the United Through Reading’s Military Program through the USO.

The Apple Valley Optimist Club was the first Optimist Club to receive the USO/Optimist International commemorative patch for their outstanding support of military families. All Optimist Clubs raising $1,000 or more earn this patch. Congratulations, Apple Valley Optimist Club!

Helping in Healing: Grant from The Bob Woodruff Foundation Supports USO Efforts

During the time her husband, journalist Bob Woodruff, spent recovering from a roadside bomb blast that nearly killed him in Iraq, Lee Woodruff found moments of healing, quiet and temporary escape by gardening.

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USO President Sloan Gibson speaks with Anne Marie Dougherty, center, executive director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, and Barbara Lau, the foundation’s charitable investment program director, on Feb. 5 at the grand opening of the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va. USO photo by Mike Theiler

It’s no coincidence that recovering troops, their families and caregivers can seek their own peace of mind in the Healing Garden outside the new USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation provided a generous grant to the USO to support education, employment training, rehabilitation and quality of life for our nation’s recovering heroes. The foundation also supported the Healing Garden, which will be in full bloom by spring. The garden will provide respite and tranquility for all who visit the center.

Walking from the building to the garden, visitors will read a message from the Bob Woodruff Foundation engraved along the path. Spaced out on the sidewalk will be the words Hope, Faith, Family and Resilience. The last part of the message will read: “Honoring the indomitable human spirit.”

“This is what we believe in. In keeping with what Bob and Lee envisioned for the Foundation, the Bob Woodruff Foundation seeks strategic partners that share a proven history of caring for the wounded and their families and the USO does just that,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, the executive director of the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

–Story by USO Publicaitons

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:

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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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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.