Supporter Spotlight: General Federation of Women’s Clubs

GFWC_150x150The General Federation of Women’s Clubs has been there for the USO. Last May, the Statesville (N.C.) Women’s Club hosted the first ever USO Barbecue for the Troops. All told, the GFWC raised more than $20,000 in 2013 for the USO, helping our organization to do the following for America’s troops and families:

The USO thanks the General Federation of Women’s Clubs for their support.

And if your club or organization would like to support America’s troops though the USO, click here.

VFW Post Donates $50,000 to USO Delaware After Sale of Building

Dave Skocik, second from right, quartermaster of Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 9962, presents a check to USO Delaware Director Joan Cote on Sept. 19. Also pictured are outgoing USO Delaware board members Dave Clapp, left, and C. Scott Kidner, second left, and USO Delaware Chairman Mike Tatoian, far right. Air Force photo by Roland Balik

Dave Skocik, second from right, quartermaster of Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Post 9962, presents a check to USO Delaware Director Joan Cote on Sept. 19. Also pictured are outgoing USO Delaware board members Dave Clapp, left, and C. Scott Kidner, second left, and USO Delaware Chairman Mike Tatoian, far right. Air Force photo by Roland Balik

After serving 13 years in the Air Force and finishing out his military career with the Delaware National Guard and the Navy Reserve, Dave Skocik understands the needs of the military in his community.

That is why he and the veterans of VFW Memorial Post 9962 voted to donate $50,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the 1950s-era VFW post they called home to USO Delaware.

“Once it was decided that we would donate the proceeds to services for the military in our community, USO Delaware was the obvious choice,” said Skocik, who serves as quartermaster and president of the Delaware Veterans Coalition. “A lot of people go through the Dover facility and the USO there is doing a phenomenal job providing a much-needed service to our active duty troops and to their families.”

Skocik, a retired Vietnam-era veteran in his 60s, refers to himself as “the young guy in the group” of a few dozen World War II and Korean War veterans who have met at a local restaurant for the last few years while renting their building to a local school.

“We’re happy where we are,” Skocik said. “We don’t have a home anymore; we don’t want one. We don’t have a bar; we don’t want one. We all thought this would be a fitting end to the building and a fitting tribute to what the USO does.”

Joan Cote, director of USO Delaware, was astonished to see all those zeros.

“I was already very happy because one dollar is more than I had one minute ago,” Cote wrote in an email. “I was thinking in my mind that it might be $500 or $1,000 donation, but when Dave came out to present the check, he first handed me a note he wanted me to read explaining their donation. My jaw dropped and I honestly mouthed ‘OMG.’ It took everything I had to hold back the tears!”

Cote says USO Delaware will use some of the funding to improve services on its patio area for troops to enjoy 24-hours-a-day.

“Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” Skocik said. “We older veterans have to remember those who are serving today. Those who are serving multiple tours in harm’s way, uprooting their families — separations — and I can’t think of a better organization to contribute to than the USO.”

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

NONPOINT Releases the Official Video for “Frontlines”

Download the digital version of the new NONPOINT single “Frontlines," and a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit military charities. (Image courtesy nonpoint.com)

Ft Lauderdale hard rockers NONPOINT have unveiled the official video to their new single, “Frontlines.”  Inspired by the bravery of our military, lead vocalist Elias Soriano explains, “When I wrote the concept for Frontlines, I wanted to make sure the focus was on the commitment of what our soldiers do for us. The weight they carry, and the intensity they hold steadfast to protect people they don’t even know.”

“I say this with as much meaning as I could possibly have,” says Soriano. “God bless the men and women of our military, and thank you for allowing me to be what I am, and do what I do. Every single one of you are the reason I’m free to do so.”

NONPOINT will be donating proceeds of the digital single sales of “Frontlines” to the USO and Soldier’s Angels foundations.  Watch the video below and  then click here to purchase it today!

Airmen March from Base to Base for USO

USO Delaware's Center Director Joan Cote (r) hits the 17-mile marker with walkers during the 3rd Annual Base to Base March on May 21, 2010.

The 3rd annual Base 2 Base March commenced on May 21, with  four dozen participants undertaking a 22-hour,  47-mile ruck march from the Delaware Air National Guard headquarters in New Castle to the Dover Air Force Base.  And the money raised – over $1000 this year alone – goes to the USO!

“I would love for deployed servicemembers to see we are thinking of them every day,” Tech. Sgt. David Jackson told Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle of 512th AW Public Affairs. “We may be bruised and blistered today, but they do this all the time. This (Base 2 Base March) is just a way of showing our appreciation for what they do.”

“The USO Delaware is thrilled that Sergeant Jackson has honored us with his Base 2 Base March,” said Joan Cote, USO Delaware director. “It brings awareness about the USO and also provides funding to support his military peers. It’s pretty remarkable that this Air Force member takes time away from his family life after a hectic work schedule to coordinate and complete this incredible event year after year. I don’t think many people realize what a difficult task the march is. That’s pretty impressive.”

This event would not have been possible without the dedicated walkers, volunteers, and other folks who made it possible.  It was tough going at times, but those who completed the walk all crossed the finish line together, showing that teamwork and support make anything possible.  Way to go!

“Socks for Soldiers” Campaign at St. John University

There are lots of ways to support the troops, from volunteering at your local USO Center to donating basics items like toothbrushes, books, or soap.  One item we often get requests for is socks.  And – as frequent guest blogger Brian Price found out – a seemingly simple everyday item can make a big difference…

PR Students Collect 608 pairs and $1300 for Our Troops
By Brian Price

As the academic school year winds down for students across the country, St. John’s University students are recognizing the thousands of young Americans in the military, posted in combat zones and disaster areas. In appreciation, a St. Johns Public Relations Campaigns Seminar class created a semester-long campaign to collect socks and raise money to buy them.

It began with research, which revealed that our troops frequently run out of clean, dry socks. Some units are deployed where there is no running water, so they can’t even wash them. The students found this quite remarkable. “I can’t believe something we all take for granted is so critical to the comfort of the men and women who make so many sacrifices for us, “ commented Tanya Dainoski, a senior in the class. The students collected socks and donations by holding bake sales and selling refreshments at athletic events. “It was fun and people responded because it is such a good cause,” added Keeley Mangeno, another class member. One of the most successful fundraisers was a pie-throw organized by Jayson Castillo and his fraternity brothers. “We got a lot of cooperation from the faculty, who were willing to suffer the embarrassment of a face full of shaving cream because they knew the money would go to socks for the troops.” Their own professor, Jane Paley, was one of them. “It was fun, though custard would have tasted better!”

The fundraising events culminated in a “Dance Through the Decades” benefit featuring hit music from the fifties to the present. “Something for everyone to dance to,” commented Ashlea Irick, who spent most of the evening on the dance floor.

The University Commons, or UC as it is known on campus, was decorated with American flags and colorful balloons. An extravagant buffet was underwritten, so the students wouldn’t have to spend any of the proceeds. Josh Peters was especially adamant: “We wanted every cent we raised to go to our troops, not to the party.”

The dance attracted classmates, friends and faculty.

Vance Toure is a senior and PR major: “Socks are one of the overlooked necessities for the troops. Tonight’s fundraiser brings the community together in the name of a great cause.”

Clearly the plan worked; big boxes at the entrance to the dance were overflowing with sweat socks.

When 50 students lined up to do the electric slide at the urging of DJ Zeke, who volunteered to spin tunes at the dance, Prof. Mark Prendergast, a Vietnam veteran and former Army Sergeant watched from the sidelines. “St. John’s University is an institution built around the notion service; it’s energizing to see students come out and support the troops regardless of their feelings on the war.”

Dr. John DiMarco, Director of the Undergraduate Public Relations program added: “The lessons of the curriculum educate the students while simultaneously giving back to society.”

The students agree, including Maria Kirsch, a senior and P.R. major: “This class was a great opportunity to give back. I have several family members in active service, so this is event is meaningful on multiple levels.” Amanda Wilkinson, another student in the class, got support for the initiative from both her father and grandfather, both of whom served in the military.

The best part was the fun the students were having celebrating our troops. Student Sydney Cohn stopped dancing just long enough to sum it up:

“A Friday night dance gave students a chance to socialize with the greater result: hundreds of pairs of socks will be donated to the troops.”

If you’d like to find ways for your school or college group to fundraise or have a donation drive for items like socks, please contact your local USO or send us an email. Brian Price is a writer for SNY, the online home for all things NY sports. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Brian Price and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.