Support Our Troops through the CFC – Designate #11381

Federal employees can donate to the nonprofits of their choice through the annual Combined Federal Campaign, known as the CFC. Show your support of our troops by designating the USO as a recipient of your CFC contribution. Your donations will help us provide critical support to those who need us most, including forward-deployed troops, military families, wounded warriors and their families and the families of the fallen. We let them know they are not forgotten.

We are happy to participate in your campaign kickoffs or other CFC events. Please contact us about participating.

WHY THE USO?

  • 90% of our resources go directly to USO programs
  • $10 provides the troops 28 phone calls to loved ones back home
  • $25 sends one care package to deployed troops
  • $50 helps support a no-cost dinner for military families at a USO Center

WE NEED YOUR HELP

Wounded, ill and injured service men and women and their families face many difficult challenges upon their return, and the USO is doing all we can to support them.

  • 8.1 million – The number of times that troops and their families visited USO centers worldwide in 2011
  • Over 185,000 – The number of military family members who received support from USO family programs in 2011

Yoga for the USO

“It really bothers me that we’ve been at two wars for 10 years and the direct impact for seeing it in our community isn’t there.”

Karen Citow, owner of a Chicago-area yoga studio, is willing to go to the mat for our troops and their families. The 34-year-old mother of three was looking for a tangible, meaningful way to show her support, so she decided to donate all her profits for the year to the USO of Illinois.

“My husband and I are in complete awe of the bravery and dedication of the men and women who volunteer for our armed forces,” she says.

Karen in action

Citow, a former licensed clinical therapist, believes that yoga makes people kinder to themselves and others, resulting in an outpouring of goodwill and good deeds.

This taut, toned and relentlessly optimistic entrepreneur opened Breathe…A Yoga Oasis in 2010 as an entirely philanthropic venture. She draws no salary, and each year, she picks a different charity to receive any studio profits.

Leslie Wooten, associate director of development for the USO of Illinois, thinks the idea is “totally new and totally awesome.”

“It’s about paying it forward and supporting causes that matter in the world,” says Wooten.

But Citow knows she has skeptics. To date, her business hasn’t actually generated any revenue beyond its operating expenses, so she’s had to come up with other ways to raise money. Once a week she teaches a Dedication Class, with all the revenue—usually more than $100 per week—going directly to her chosen charity.

In 2011, that amounted to nearly $5,000 for a local cancer foundation. In 2010, Citow raised more than $13,000 for UNICEF, with a boost from a successful Halloween, trick-or-treating fundraiser.

She hopes to come up with new fundraising ideas this year, and she believes her business will finally be in the black, allowing her to give even more generously to the USO of Illinois.

Citow chose the USO because of its reputation for supporting active duty troops and military families. She worries that too many Americans have no connection at all to the men and women who defend our freedom.

“I try to make sure that our kids are really aware this is happening, and to be grateful and thankful … that people are sacrificing and serving.”

Citow knows that most other small business owners can’t forgo their salaries or give away their profits. She calls herself fortunate—her husband is a successful surgeon, so she doesn’t have to work. Her studio allows her to use her time and talents to promote the benefits of yoga, while giving back for all her blessings.

“I hate to say I wanted to make the world a better place, but it’s true!” she admits with a laugh, “I’m proud of what I’m doing… and I love yoga and believe that if more people practiced yoga the world could be a healthier and kinder place.” – Malini Wilkes, USO Director of Story Development

Heartwarming Stories From the Troops

One of the greatest comforts you can give our troops is letting them know their families are taken care of while they spend months serving their country far from home.

These words from one military wife offer a glimpse of that special feeling our troops get:

“The night before my husband left for deployment he was reading the children their bedtime story, but in the middle of it, he broke down. He hugged them and told them he was just going to miss bedtime stories with them. Our son put his arm around his dad’s shoulders to comfort him and said, ‘It’s okay, Daddy. Remember? You can still read to us on the DVDs that you send…just like last time!’”

Through your support for the USO’s partnership with United Through Reading’s Military Program, you can help deliver powerful moments like this to tens of thousands of our troops. It would mean so much to them.

Help make more special moments possible for our troops by donating $10 or more to support the USO’s partnership with United Through Reading’s Military Program, hosted at over 70 USO locations worldwide.

Your support will allow our troops to read a bedtime story to their children and then send a personalized DVD recording of it back home. I asked one troop to describe what this program means to him, and his response nearly brought me to tears:

“The USO and United Through Reading® filled a communication void with my two-year old son. He interacted with the video of me reading, and my wife reported back on the parts of the story that he responded to and what he said. I felt like I was having a dialogue with him that I couldn’t have had by any other means.”

There’s nothing more powerful than a parent’s love for their child. And nothing more touching than knowing you’ve helped a parent in the military play an important part in the life of their son or daughter.

Make a donation to connect more troops with the children they’re missing back home through the USO’s partnership with United Through Reading®.

It’s the least we can do for these selfless and brave individuals who sacrifice so much to serve our nation and protect our way of life.

Thanks for making this amazing program possible - Kelli Seely, Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer, USO

P.S. — Thanks to people like you, the USO has been able to join forces with United Through Reading® and deliver over 240,000 bedtime videos and storybooks over the last five years. Please help us keep reaching more troops and their families.

Check In to jcpenney

You may not be too familiar with Foursquare, a social app for your mobile phone that let’s you “check-in” to different places you visit. But if you’ve been interested in trying it out, now’s the time – from July 23 to July 31 jcpenney will donate a $1 dollar to the USO for every “check-in” to one of their stores up to $50,000! That’s in addition to the $1 million donation they’ve already made to the USO!

Need to know how to get started? Download one of Foursquare’s mobile apps on your phone. They provide apps for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry. “Officially unofficial” apps exist for Nokia’s S40, S60 and MeeGo platforms, along with Windows Phone 7 and Palm. If there’s no app for your phone, you can check in through Foursquare’s mobile site or via SMS. Once you’ve set up your Foursquare account, head on over to your closest jcpenney!

To check in, open the mobile app on your phone and Foursquare will use your phone’s GPS to find your current location. Click the ‘Check in’ button or tab to see a list of nearby places where you can check in. If the place you’re looking for isn’t in the list, you can search for it or add it directly from your phone.

When you check in, you’ll have the option to share your location with your Foursquare friends and with Facebook and Twitter. If you check in without sharing with your friends, your check-in will be private and only seen by you.

And while you’re there, be sure to let them know you’d like to round up your purchase to the nearest dollar for the USO. The difference will be donated to the USO too!

Georgia Couple Rallies Support for USO

Jack and Pat Solomon, decade-long USO Georgia volunteers, at their home outside of Atlanta, GA. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

If you are in the military and have spent any time at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you have probably been hugged at least once by Pat Solomon.

She and her husband Jack–a graduate of West Point–are two of the many friendly, welcoming and warm couples who volunteer at USO Georgia. For the past 10 years, the Solomons have worked at least three days per week at the Atlanta airport USO, but more recently they have embarked on a new mission—fundraising.

Throughout the summer the Solomons will travel over 1,000 miles to visit more than 100 Kangaroo Express stores in Georgia, dropping off USO fundraising materials and engaging with employees to officially launch the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops campaign.

Involving more than 1,600 Kangaroo Express stores, the Salute Our Troops campaign is the largest grassroots fundraising initiative the USO has ever participated in, raising $1.3 million for the USO in its first year.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, custom painted vehicles and decorated veterans of the recent wars will travel throughout the South capturing the attention of Kangaroo Express guests and educating the public on problems facing the military and military families.

According to USO account manager Kirk Parker, the campaign has been such a success because of patriots like the Solomons who literally go the extra mile to develop a personal relationship with Kangaroo Express staff and management of every store in their area.

“We do what we can do here because these men and women are doing what they can over there,” said Jack Solomon. “Our small contribution of time and gas pales in comparison to the sacrifices being made by our sons and daughters overseas. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to them for volunteering to serve. Not everyone can, and not everyone will. We must recognize and honor this.”

“She (Pat) is the biggest military cheerleader you’ve ever seen,” he added. “She absolutely lives and breathes the USO and the support for our troops. We believe that energy is contagious—it can be spread to the staff of Kangaroo so that they bring the same energy toward troop support you might find at an actual USO.”

“He is the reason I do it,” said Pat. “He and every other American who has ever served this country—I love them all.” — By Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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Wawa Welcomes America with Hoagies

Last week Wawa kicked off its Independence Day celebrations in Philadelphia with a special Hoagie Day –  an afternoon full of singing, food and thanking our troops!

Hundreds of thank you notes were collected and will be sent to troops overseas!

That morning over 200 Wawa associates came together to make more than 4.5 tons of hoagie to feed event attendees! Thousands of people came out to eat and write messages of thanks to the troops at the Liberty USO tent!

Anyone know where we can find an extra large ATM?

Wawa celebrated an amazing two weeks of fundraising for the USO by giving us a check for $100,000! The campaign isn’t over yet- be sure to stop by your closest Wawa and drop in some change for the USO – maybe we can double that!

Finally, the USO Liberty Bells closed out the festivities by performing a medley of songs that got everyone up and dancing! Thanks Wawa for all your support and dedication to our military! – Vyque Elessar, USO Director of New Media