By Sandi Gohn
It’s never too early to start prepping for the holiday season – especially when your plans include sending tens of thousands of USO Holidays Care Packages to U.S. military members all around the world
USO Holidays Care Packages are filled with a variety of treats and essentials – including a USO Snack Pack, a Jeep® brand beanie, festive socks and more – and serve as a reminder of home during a time of year when it can be particularly difficult to be far away from all that’s familiar.
In fact, for some service members, a USO Holidays Care Package will serve as the only gift they will receive while being away from family and home during the holidays.
In 2021 alone, the USO plans on delivering roughly 50,000 USO Holidays Care Packages to members of the U.S. Armed Forces stateside and overseas – an impressive feat considering that each individual bag must be hand-filled.
Stuffing Care Packages and Delivering Holiday Cheer
One of the ways USO Holidays Care Packages are typically assembled is through stuffing events, in which USO staff members, volunteers, corporate partners and, on some occasions, the general public, come together to stuff hundreds to thousands of care packages.
Stuffing events are an excellent way for military supporters to donate their time and express their gratitude to the U.S. Armed Forces – all while helping the USO save valuable donor dollars on labor costs associated with care package assembly.
That’s why, earlier this October, USO corporate partner Jeep® stepped up to host a stuffing event in Detroit. Over 150 volunteers participated in the event and helped assemble roughly 6,000 care packages.
“We could not deliver this mission without volunteers and that [shows] why we are so grateful to our friends at Jeep [for] coming out and helping us pack these care packages today,” said Chris Fowler, USO senior director of corporate alliances.
Jeep® – which, like the USO, was founded in 1941 – has been a USO partner since 2008 and has supported a number of USO missions over the years, to include donating several Jeep® vehicles to USO locations and participating in stuffing events.
“[It’s] a great way for us here in 2021 to stay connected to our roots [and], more importantly, stay connected to the men and women who are giving everything to serve for America,” said Jim Morrison, vice president of Jeep® brand North America.
“[The care packages are] a great way to bring out a little bit of America to the [military] members that are serving right now overseas [and at home],” Morrison said.
A Full-Circle Moment
For some of the volunteers at the stuffing event with military connections, like Adam Taylor, the day served as a full-circle moment and a way to express their gratitude to today’s service members.
“Growing up, my dad was deployed multiple times. He was boots on the grounds for Kosovo, so he missed the holidays,” Taylor said.
Given the expeditionary nature of his dad’s job in the military, Taylor noted that sometimes it was challenging for his family to connect during the holidays for more than a few minutes – especially since there were no smartphones at the time.
If it wasn’t for a care package from family members or the USO, Taylor added, deployed service members like his dad might not do much of anything to mark the holiday season.
“[These USO Holiday Care Packages are] one connection that they have away from home to remind them that people care,” Taylor said. “This is definitely going to help.”
No matter whether the USO Holiday Care Packages Taylor and others assembled are headed to Iraq, Illionois or Iwakuni one thing is for certain – the service members who receive them will enjoy a welcome reminder of home, perhaps just when they need it the most.
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