By USO Staff

On Giving Tuesday Now, May 5, 2020, you can help the USO continue its mission of providing critical support to improve the daily lives of active duty, Reserve and Guard military members – many of whom are on the front lines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Giving Tuesday Now logo. | Photo credit Courtesy of Giving Tuesday

While most people have already heard about the post-Thanksgiving holiday, Giving Tuesday, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic this year, there is a second day of global giving on May 5, 2020. People are encouraged to give back to their communities – especially those affected by the virus and those on the front lines fighting the disease.

As the COVID-19 outbreak is quickly evolving, the USO has pivoted resources across our entire global operations to help care for military members and their families, many of whom are on the front lines of fighting the disease. Your support, particularly on #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5, ensures that our non-government, charity military organization can continue the incredibly important work of supporting our nation’s service members and military families during this uncertain time.

When you donate to the USO this Giving Tuesday Now on May 5, here are just some of the ways your donation could help make a difference in the lives of service members:

1. Supporting Quarantined Troops

Some service members around the world are currently in quarantine for their own safety and for the safety of their units. Operational readiness is especially crucial during a global pandemic, and quarantines help stop the spread of the virus and keep our troops fighting fit.

However, being in quarantine can be a stressful and lengthy process. This is especially true for troops who are stationed overseas or have just returned home from deployment, but then must immediately sit through 14 days of quarantine before they can head home to their loved ones. For those who are diagnosed with the virus, the situation is even more tense.

That’s why – with the help of donors like you – USO teams across the world have been able to provide support to these quarantined service members. While always adhering to CDC guidelines and military command protocol, the USO is delivering food, snacks and beverages to quarantined troops. On some bases, the USO is also providing entertainment in the form of video games, movies and board games.

By doing this, we let our quarantined service members know that even in these uncertain times, they are not forgotten.

Photo credit Sandi Gohn/USO

A USO vehicle is filled with supplies.

2. Supporting Medical Personnel

Your donation to the USO means that we can continue to support service members who are either in the medical field, facilitating quarantines or providing other COVID-19-related support to the American people. In New York City, the USO team has been working throughout the greater metropolitan area to provide a slew of classic USO amenities – from toiletry kits to comfort foods to gym equipment – to service members working on the USNS Comfort, in the Javits Center and more as a tangible way of saying thank you to the military for what they are doing.

Throughout the country, the Mobile USO team has been on the move for much of the COVID-19 pandemic, delivering snacks and other support to service members throughout the country.

In Naples, Italy, the USO has been making sure that the hospital staff on base know how much their round-the-clock hard work is appreciated. On Hospital Appreciation Day, the USO team delivered bags with a selection of delicious breakfast treats to keep the service members fed and hydrated on the go.

These snacks might seem like a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, but these simple means of support can make all the difference for our military.

Photo credit Sandi Gohn/USO

A service member looks at a USO hygiene kit.

3. Supporting Service Members Who Are Still on the Front Lines

While the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped most of the world in its tracks, many service members on the front lines carry on regardless of the pandemic. Forward deployed troops must still carry out their essential missions in volatile regions like the Middle East to ensure the safety of the American people.

Serving down range on deployment is always a stressful time, but especially when a pandemic is sweeping across the globe and service members are far from home. This can take a toll on our brave men and women in uniform. That’s why, in the midst of mandated USO center closures and newly-implemented health and safety procedures, our USO teams on the ground remain committed to supporting our service members who need us most.

Whether that means spreading the word about a Virtual USO Tour (featuring celebrities like The Chainsmokers, Iliza Schlezinger, David Boreanaz, Miles Teller and more), taking our Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program on-the-go, or surprising hard-working service members with a snack delivery, the USO is still there with them, every step of the way.

4. Supporting Military Spouses

Military spouses already lead challenging lives – with deployments, constant moves, the challenge of sustaining a career and the daily stress of military life. This is even more poignant right now, during the coronavirus pandemic.

With schools and day cares closed, and social distancing now the new norm, many military spouses have suddenly become full-time, single parents. Because the military, of course, does not “work from home,” their service member must still put on their uniform every day and head to work. For those whose spouses are deployed, this situation can be even more challenging.

Photo credit USO Photo

Military spouses chat at a USO Coffee Connections event.

The USO is always dedicated to supporting military spouses by providing them with resources to help weather the storm, especially over these coming weeks. Military spouses can take advantage of now-virtual programs that promote networking and connection, such as USO Coffee Connections, where they can discuss hot topics and challenges within the military community, as well as search for employment opportunities.

Military spouses can also continue to rely on the USO for food programming. Cooking classes that used to be hosted in USO centers are now being provided online through livestream videos, including a special virtual cookie class hosted by Martha Stewart. Some USO locations, such as USO Camp Walker, have even been able to safely provide hot meals to military families at outdoors locations, always adhering to CDC guidelines and base command instructions.

Additionally, the USO has shifted its programming for military children to virtual offerings, like livestreaming story hours via the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program. These online activities have helped keep military children entertained, offering military spouses some respite in the middle of a very stressful time.

5. Supporting Military Children and Families

This pandemic is challenging for everyone, but especially military children. These small heroes are already facing the challenges of military life, which often involves a constant change of homes, schools and time away from their service member parent. Now, with schools closed and children unable to visit friends, many military children are stuck at home, 24/7. This is even more challenging for military children whose family is stationed overseas, far from everyone and everything familiar, or for those children whose parent is currently deployed.

Photo credit USO Photo

A military child walks with his family.

That’s why the USO and our military supporters have made it possible for military kids around the world to stay entertained, engaged and – most importantly – connected during the coronavirus pandemic by taking some of its most popular programs online.

Local USO centers have launched livestreamed videos of USO story time, hosted virtual scavenger hunts, filmed craft videos, offered free coloring sheets, recorded dance classes and more for military families to access online. These programs don’t just keep military kids busy – they also help serve as a light in an otherwise dark and uncertain time.

Your support of the USO ensures that our organization can continue the incredibly important work of supporting our nation’s service members and military families, which is essential during the coronavirus pandemic. To learn more on how you can help, click here.