Navy Veteran Finds Joy in Giving Back to the Military as a USO Volunteer

By Kayla Clark

It was Christmas morning and USO volunteer and U.S. Navy veteran Beverly Litz was dressed in a Santa jacket and already prepared for the dreary, rainy day ahead. As people around the world opened presents with their loved ones, Litz began loading the hundreds of homemade cookies she baked into a van in preparation for USO Rota’s Operation Cookie Drop. This is the life of a USO volunteer – service and sacrifice, all in support of our nation’s military.

Every year since 2017, USO Rota, which serves a large population of American service members and military families stationed in Spain, executes Operation Cookie Drop, in which thousands of homemade cookies are delivered to service members on duty on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. USO volunteers sign up to serve, suit up in holiday attire and deliver Christmas cheer all around base. This past year, the USO center received over 2,000 donated cookies – a fourth of which were personally baked and donated by Litz.

Not only did she dedicate so much time in creating these delicious treats, but she also signed up as one of the two volunteers to assist with personally delivering them all on Christmas Day.

Photo credit USO Rota

Boosting service members’ morale is a large part of being a USO Volunteer, whether that’s providing a warm welcome when they enter the USO center or dressing up as Santa’s elves to deliver holiday cheer on base. Beverly Litz is pictured here as one of Santa’s helpers, second to right.

“I like to connect to others through food. Making food for others feels like an ultimate act of love, of serving others,” Litz said.

“So, serving meals or treats or giving away take-home items has been a real honor and joy to me. The community appreciates it, and I adore seeing how pleased they are. Those smiling eyes, or surprised reactions to being treated to a free homemade meal or snack, just warms my heart.”

Litz knows all too well how important these small reminders of home are to our service members, as she herself joined the U.S. Navy when she was just 17 years old as a Navy Corpsman. She initially joined to pay for college and never imagined it would end up becoming her career for over 25 years. However, over the years, her passion became helping and guiding others.

“Helping others to succeed in their goals became the highlight of my service. Success in careers, success in healthy lives, success in connecting with others and – ultimately – success in meeting set goals. I found pure fulfillment in helping others,” she said.

Photo credit USO Rota/Kayla Clark

Dressing up as holiday characters like Santa Claus, snowmen, elves and more helps bring smiles to the faces of service members who must work on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

While Beverly was in service, the USO was always there for her as a home away from home. It was a place to just relax and refresh, and also a supportive community that showed there were people out there thinking about her and about all of our service members. It was a place of comfort and joy.

After her retirement from the Navy, Litz found other ways to serve within the military community. When Litz’s spouse, who is currently serving in the Navy, was stationed at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Litz realized that there was a USO center at their new duty station – and she knew she had to get involved and serve as a USO volunteer.

“I’m honored and humbled to be a volunteer at the USO here in Rota,” Litz said. “It has enabled me to give other military members and their families that same feeling of joy and comfort that I have felt over the years.”

Litz has volunteered for the USO for a year and a half and, despite also working as a substitute teacher, has managed to serve on over 75 different shifts, helping with USO programs such as family trivia nights, kids’ craft programs and troop lunches, the impactful Memorial Day ceremony and walk, ship homecomings, the annual Turkey Brigade, Operation Cookie Drop and so much more.

Litz happily dressed up as a princess for the Prince and Princess Party, and later as an elf for the USO Santa’s Workshop at the center’s large Winter Wonderland event. Litz always has an air of joy, happiness and love when volunteering. She is always willing to throw on a costume and reach out, just to make others smile and laugh. She enjoys the labor of love of cooking and providing a taste of home to our troops overseas, and she can relate to the challenges they experience from her own military service.

Beverly Litz (pictured right, as Belle) goes above and beyond when volunteering for the USO by dressing up in costumes in order to bring smiles to military families. | Photo credit USO Rota

When asked why Beverly continues to volunteer, she shared how much the organization has given her a sense of purpose after her career of service. She’s been able to build her own community here overseas and continue her legacy of helping and guiding others.

“Through the USO, I have been able to connect with some of the best people I’ve ever met. I’ve been able to give back to the community in a way I once was only a recipient of,” she said. “I’ve learned new skills, I fulfilled a missing piece of my soul and I’ve felt a real sense of family and happiness while away from ‘home.’”

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