Sports Illustrated’s Peter King Supports the Troops with the “Five for Fighting” Campaign

SI Columnist Peter King

A chance conversation five years ago with the guy seated next to him at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game led Peter King – a popular columnist with Sports Illustrated – down an unexpected path.  He developed a friendship with Army First Sgt. Mike McGuire, who – as King explained in his column last week – “specializes in ridding the landscape of IEDs (improvised explosive devices) on the roads of Iraq and Afghanistan, so others in the military can do their job safely.”

The two men stayed in touch and King recently learned that Sgt. McGuire and the men of Havoc Company, 40th Engineers, will be deployed to Afghanistan later this year.  “I asked Mike just before the holidays if there was anything I could do for him and his troops. At first he said, ‘We’re fine.’ Then he said it would nice if the base that will likely be invented for his company — as are many in remote areas of Afghanistan — could have some or the comforts that the big bases have: a TV with video games, and weight equipment for the soldiers in the company to use in their downtime.”  With that in mind, King knew just what to do: partner with the USO and John Ondrasik for the “Five for Fighting” initiative, which asks for a donation to get Sgt. McGuire, his company, and other Troops the amenities of the USO2Go program.

USO2GO takes some of most popular offerings of a stand-along USO Center – snacks, coffee, toiletries, phone cards, DVDs, XBox®360, PlayStation® 3, Wii, laptops, musical instruments, art supplies, and footballs just to name a few – and packages them in customized, deployable kits that can be delivered to Forward Operating Bases.  These kits can make all the difference for Troops stationed in isolated, remote locations.

King’s ask went out on February 28th and within just twenty-four hours, YOUR donations resulted in enough for three USO2GO kits!  King put it best when he said, “I’m in awe of your generosity. As is the USO.”

USO2GO being delivered to FOB Brassfield-Mora. Samarra, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Ian Terry)

It’s true.  We are humbled by these donations and grateful to King for bringing attention to such a great program.  King promises to continue to update his readership on Sgt. McGuire and his men, and had this quote to share in yesterday’s column: “I don’t even know what to say,” [McGuire] wrote from Germany, where his 135-troop Havoc Company, 40th Engineers, is training for deployment in Afghanistan later this year. “I am speechless, really. We are just soldiers. Never expected anything like this. Please tell everyone, ‘Thank you.’ I wish I could describe the emotions better. This just proves that the American people have not forgotten about the soldier. WOW!!!”

To date, you’ve helped us raise over $125,000, but we’re just getting started.  Your donation means so much to our Troops!

We’ll continue to keep you posted on the latest from Sgt. McGuire and his company.  In the meantime, take a moment to leave a message for them and read what others have posted.  And follow @the_USO and @SI_PeterKing on Twitter for all the latest info.

Thank you.

Celtics Fans: Donate YOUR Tickets to the Troops!

Boston Celtics Fans Give Troops Slam Dunk Treatment in Third Annual Seats for Soldiers

The Boston Celtics will again treat troops and their families to a slam dunk event on Friday, March 12 against the Indiana Pacers as part of the third annual Seats for Soldiers program, presented by OmniPresence. Through Seats for Soldiers, Celtics fans donate their tickets to the game and allow members of the U.S. armed forces and their families to attend in their seat.

Last season, more than 500 tickets were donated to Seats for Soldiers and this year the program is expanding so fans anywhere can donate tickets for the U.S. armed forces. Fans interested in donating tickets can call 617-854-8013 or email seatsforsoldiers@celtics.com.  Additionally, Boston Celtics season ticket holders will be able to donate their tickets by logging onto their account at www.celtics.com. All donated tickets are given to the USO for distribution among the military branches.

“Seats for Soldiers has been a tremendously successful program in honoring the men and women of all our armed forces,” Boston Celtics Team President Rich Gotham said. “Our fans have shown amazing generosity the last few years in donating their tickets to these courageous individuals who defend our country. We look forward to working with our partner, OmniPresence, to provide the soldiers in attendance with a fun and special night.”

“The Seats for Soldiers program is an excellent opportunity for us to continue the USO tradition of providing first-class entertainment to our troops and their families,” said Jean Mallon, Executive Director, USO New England.  “The Boston Celtic fans are among the most patriotic, and I am proud of how they demonstrate their support for our troops.  Go Celtics!”

The Seats for Soldiers donations are product of a unique collaborative effort among the USO, Boston Celtics, Celtics season ticket holders and fans that purchased tickets for the March 12 home game. All of the seats donated were voluntarily contributed to allow members of the armed services and their families to attend the game in their place.  Thank you!

Donut Donation Makes a Big Difference

One person really can make a difference as the sailors at Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan found out on Friday, January 15, 2010.  Brooklynite Carmen Colon wanted to do something for the troops, so she purchased $240 worth of donuts to donate.  But how to get them there?  The USO, of course!

“USO Operation Doughnut Drop” with the USS Shiloh was a huge success.  “It really was a terrific morale-booster,” said Vernichel Tharps, the Director of Programs and Marketing for USO Japan.  Below are some exclusive pictures from this fun, sugar-filled day.  In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: “Donuts. Is there anything they can’t do?”

Happy New Year from the USO

As 2009 is rushed to a close, we hope you’ll take a few moments to make a tax-deductible gift to support our men and women in uniform. They make countless sacrifices on our behalf every day. And today, we can let them know they are on our minds and in our hearts.

Act before midnight tonight. Make a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more to support our Troops.


America’s service men and women have done so much throughout 2009 to serve our country. And we will be asking a great deal of them in the year ahead.   Before the clock strikes midnight, let those involved in dangerous duty far from home know that they are not forgotten.  Thank you for reaching out to our troops, to ease their burdens and lift their spirits.  Until Every One Comes Home.

Over 300 Brides Find the Gowns of Their Dreams!

USO New England and Vows Bridal Outlet teamed up for the “G.I. Gown Giveaway,” ensuring that over 300 women received a gorgeous wedding gown…for free!  The first of what will hopefully become many annual events, this giveaway was especially meaningful for USO New England Executive Director Jean Mallon.  “We wanted each bride to feel special,” Mallon said. “Not only is it an exciting practical gift for military families and brides-to-be, but it also boosts morale.”  Check out a photo gallery of the gown giveaway goings on: