[caption id=“attachment_6520” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella and USO President Sloan Gibson”][/caption]

When the USO launched its latest initiative, the USO Wishbook, we knew that getting the word out to the American public would be key. And with the holidays just around the corner what better time to debut the initiative than now, giving holiday shoppers a reprieve from crowded malls and relieving them from having to answer the age-old question of “What do you get the person who has it all?”

With gifts ranging from $15 to $5,000 the USO Wishbook – an alternative giving website that solely supports U.S. troops and their families – really does have a gift that can fit every budget. So, how do we get the word out to those looking to deliver some goodness and a touch of home to troops? We teamed up with long-time partner the Miss Universe Organization and headed to New York, where Miss USA 2011 Alyssa Campanella and USO President Sloan Gibson participated in a four-hour satellite media tour with 27 media outlets. When asked about her support of the USO and the USO Wishbook Campanella replied:

“For me its personal, I had a grandfather who served in the Navy and one of my best friends served in Afghanistan in the Marines. I know how my grandfather or best friend would have felt to receive these wonderful gifts. Especially for the holiday season.”

And with more than 6,000 gifts purchased since its Nov. 15th launch, the USO Wishbook is definitely hitting home with military supporters and holiday shoppers, and there are still stories to tell. Like that of Senior Airmen Gabriel Time, who was able to witness the birth of his first child via Skype at a USO center in Kandahar, Afghanistan, or that of CPT Peter Hufman, who was able to stay connected during his deployment with his 4 children, including one-month-old son Isaac, by reading them their favorite bedtime stories. It’s through purchases in support of “Tech to Connect” and “Bedtime Stories,” among the many other gifts available through the USO Wishbook, that the USO is able to continue creating moments like these for our troops and their families.

“We are going to keep the USO Wishbook up all year long,” said USO President Sloan Gibson. “And we will be constantly adding and changing items based on the things that we know troops and their family members appreciate.”

Devoted to building awareness of USO Wishbook, Campanella will once again team up with the USO and this Sunday, Dec. 18, she will join USO Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Frank Thorp on Fox & Friends. Tune in at 6:30 am (EST) to learn more about how the USO and the USO Wishbook are making a difference in the lives of today’s troops and military families and help us spread the word. - Sharee Posey, USO Media Specialist