FIJI Islander Events Raise Over $10k for USO South Carolina

Get together for the troops!

Get together for the troops!

The stakes were high as the brothers of Phi Gamma Delta at the College of Charleston started planning their FIJI Islander event to support the USO.  They knew they wanted to go big in support of America’s troops and families.  And big they went.  They didn’t just hold one event.  No!  They held at least one event every day for an entire week and in the end donated over $10,000 to support USO South Carolina.

FIJI Islander week kicked off on Sunday April 14th with a basketball tournament. The hoops for troops event offered cash prizes and a trophy for the winners.  Before the FIJI brothers could reap the success of their first event they were on to event number two.  On Monday, students on campus lined up for a rare opportunity to dunk a princess in the dunk tank.  As you can imagine, this was a popular event.  Later that night the fundraising continued as everyone headed over to Freshberry where a percentage of the proceeds went to support the USO.

Moving on to day three of fundraising, on Tuesday night, a percentage of the proceeds from dinner at Boones supported the USO.    Then on Wednesday, a school yard event we all loved as children — a kickball tournament – would get sororities and fraternities on the field together kicking a ball around for a good cause.

This fraternity isn’t done yet.  On Thursday campus beauties participated in the Princess Pageant complete with talent competition.  And Finally on Saturday the big finale FIJI Islander party to celebrate a week of successful fundraising.

This FIJI chapter’s donation will go to support troops where it is needed most.  Today’s USO is always by their side, continuously adapting to the needs of our troops and their families by supporting and comforting, connecting and entertaining in new and imaginative ways. USO’s programs and services are made possible by the support of donors like these. - Lisa Ferrari Carter, USO Relationship Manager, Clubs & Organizations

Service After Service: Martin Van der Hoek

To mark Veterans Day, we asked some of our volunteers who have served in America’s armed forces to share why they give their time to today’s troops by helping the USO. Here is one of their stories.

USO South Carolina volunteer Army Capt. Martin Van der Hoek

As a service member who has had to opportunity to see the USO in action both at home and overseas, I don’t think that I can ever speak (or write) enough to emphasize the importance and selflessness of the USO and all of its volunteers.

I recall the comfort and sense of home and community that the USO was able to provide to myself and fellow soldiers. Because of this, I find that it is vital for veterans to engage themselves in their local USOs to help out.

This serves two purposes: it gives back to the organization that gives so much in the way of service to our military family and it helps create bonds between the organization and its clients. To be able to walk into a USO and see that there are people there who can connect with you, joke around and share the same common bonds is a wonderful feeling. It also helps the families, who may be separated from their loved ones due to training, deployments or a number of other reasons. They can sit down and chat with volunteers about places that they may both have lived, restaurants and vacation spots they have shared, and it can really drive home that bond and that sense that no matter where they are, the USO stands ready to serve them.

Finally—and perhaps most important—is the sheer power that veterans bring to the USO in their words, their commitment and their actions. I think if you asked around, you would find that there are no better spokesmen for the USO than our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. These men and women know firsthand the comfort and the countless efforts made day in and day out by USO volunteers worldwide to bring some joy to their lives and the lives of their families. Because of this, they can perfectly and succinctly explain to an interested party just how beneficial they could be by volunteering with the USO. And just like that, you have yourself another fantastic and energized volunteer!

—Army Capt. Martin Van der Hoek
USO South Carolina Volunteer

USO South Carolina Officially Opens at Columbia Metro Airport!

Guests - including USO's President and CEO Sloan Gibson, 2nd from left - look on as a Color Guard places the American and South Carolina flags outside the new USO Center in Columbia Metro Airport.

The USO proudly announces the opening of its first center in South Carolina at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport!  This 900 square-foot facility will serve approximately 46,000 service members traveling through the airport each year, along with the 65,000 active duty troops and their family members stationed at Fort Jackson, Fort Gordon, Shaw Air Force Base, 81st Regional Support Command (USAR) and McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

“Having the state’s first USO located at Columbia Metropolitan Airport plays a key role in the airport’s continued goal to support our customers coming to/from Fort Jackson, Shaw AFB, and McEntire ANG Base among other installations. We are pleased and honored to be a partner with USO. My thanks to the Airport Commission and staff and to the many key players representing Fort Jackson and our business community in the evident teamwork that was done to make this USO a reality. Joanie Thresher, Director USO South Carolina, and her team of volunteers provide an incredible service daily to the men and women of our military branches and their families, ” said Dan Mann, executive director, Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

The center is located in the airport atrium, and will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.  All programs and services offered there are free to troops and their family members.  Computer stations and Wi-Fi access will allow troops to check email and stay connected to their loved ones. Xbox® 360 video gaming systems, large screen TVs and books will entertain troops during long layovers.  Snacks are available for those with empty stomachs.

Joanie Thresher, the Center Director at USO South Carolina had this to say: “I want to thank the Columbia community for their generosity and support in making USO South Carolina possible. Opening this center has truly been a labor of love, and I am confident that with this continued level of support, we are headed toward bigger and better things.”

For individuals and corporations looking for volunteer opportunities or to donate monetary gift or supplies, please contact Joanie directly at (803) 404-1824 or via email.  Enjoy more opening day pictures below!

Joanie Thresher cuts the ribbon, officially opening USO South Carolina June 3, 2010.

Combat Veterans of Lexington, SC, present a check to USO South Carolina at the grand opening ceremony June 3, 2010.

Brigadier General Bradley May, Commanding General, Fort Jackson, sings the praises of USO South Carolina Director Joanie Thresher at the center opening June 3, 2010.

South Carolina Declares May “USO Awareness Month”

Way to go, USO of South Carolina, in getting May to be officially recognized as “USO Awareness Month.”  This is especially exciting considering that the USO at Columbia Metropolitan Airport will be celebrating its one-year anniversary on June 3.  We’re proud of Center Director Joanie Thresher, our staff, volunteers, and all of the Troops who use this facility and hope you’ll join us in wishing them a Happy USO Awareness Month!

Click here to watch some videos from Midlands Connect that talk more about the great work USO South Carolina is doing and to learn how YOUR donations can make a difference!