Caring and Cookies: USO Care Package Service Project on Capitol Hill Celebrates Sesame Street Partnership
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
By Eric Brandner
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rarely do so many important men and women in suits line up to pose with a mascot.
More than 60 members of Congress came out Wednesday for the Operation USO Care Package Service Project in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. And just as the dozens of elected officials and Congressional staffers started packing supplies into plastic bags headed for Afghanistan, Cookie Monster's giant blue hand reached in to help out.
The service project – which the USO hosts twice a year in the Rayburn Foyer – produced 2,000 care packages destined for troops serving in Afghanistan. (For more photos from the event, go to our Flickr set.) It was also an avenue to highlight the USO’s five-year partnership with Sesame Street. The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families – the USO’s longest-running tour – will visit 42 military installations in eight countries over the next five months.
“This partnership with the USO has truly allowed us to deliver on our mission of helping all children in need – to help all children grow and achieve their highest potential,” said Vice President of Outreach, Initiatives and Partners at Sesame Workshop Lynn Chwatsky. “And what this amazing partnership with the USO allows us is to reach these families directly.”
USO President Sloan Gibson told the crowd that military family members have been entertained at more than 630 Sesame Street/USO shows in 33 countries over the last five years.
Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) – USO Congressional Caucus co-chairman and a retired command sergeant major in the Army National Guard – spoke of the importance of the USO/Sesame Street program for military families across the globe.
“The conversations you’ve helped spark about what it means to be a military kid [are] absolutely invaluable,” Walz told the crowd at the start of the event.
For three hours Wednesday, hundreds of people filed past bins of supplies headed downrange, stuffing everything from disposable razors to pens and yes, cookies, into plastic bags and giant boxes that will soon be ripped open by grateful troops.
The USO has distributed more than 2.3 million care packages to troops around the world since 2003.
“The soldiers, the sailors, the airmen the Marines – all of them really appreciate these packages when they get over there,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), a co-chair of the USO Congressional Caucus and the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
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Photo caption: Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) holds her son George as Cookie Monster entertains. Below, USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson stuffs care packages with volunteers and Capitol Hill staff. For more photos from the event, go to our Flickr set. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)
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