By Sandi Moynihan
For service members in remote areas, like Camp Mujuk, South Korea, a holiday is just like any other day.
There are no fancy parties. No family gift exchanges. Mail is even hard to come by. Instead, there’s just an added reminder of missing out on yet another special moment with family and friends.
“It really stunk being there [during the winter holidays],” said Marines Master Sgt. Charles Lazard, who was deployed to Camp Mujuk in 2014.
Fortunately for Lazard, and hundreds of other troops serving in isolated locations overseas, the USO created the USO Holiday Care Packages program to send them a dose of holiday cheer.
“It really boosted morale [getting the USO Holiday Boxes],” Lazard said. “Seeing the place decorated helped us miss home a little less.”
Designed specifically to bring a touch of home to 50 service members in remote areas, USO Holiday Care Packages are carefully curated packages stuffed with treats, decorations, snacks and other themed holiday mementos. Some boxes also contain greeting cards, books, DVDs and other fun activities to help service members celebrate those red calendar days.
“Those [USO Holiday Care Packages] were our life line,” wrote Navy Lt. Paul Rogers, a chaplain who was also deployed to Camp Mujuk in 2014. “Without them we would have had no physical reminders of what was happening back home.
“Catching a twinkle from a light, a flash of red and green from a tree, or a decoration on the wall helped us both miss our family a little less and remind us why we were there: defending those we love.”
Want to help bring Christmas surprises to deployed troops spending the holidays defending our freedom? Donate today.
There are four different USO Holiday Care Packages troops can request: Super Bowl/Valentine’s Day/St. Patrick’s Day, Patriotic/Summer, Halloween/Thanksgiving and Winter/Christmas/Hanukah.
In 2014, the USO sent 170 boxes to service members around the world to help them celebrate different holidays.
“It was a humbling experience to see the outpouring of generosity for the Marines from the USO and supporting companies,” said Navy Capt. Daniel Young. “Although we are volunteers in defending this great country anywhere it may require, we are never callous to enjoying the holidays, and the USO made that happen for us in Korea.”
More from the USO
Dec 23, 2014
Operation Block Leave: USO of Georgia Works Around the Clock to Help Troops Heading Home for the Holidays
Each December, airports around the nation are swarmed by troops heading home from basic training, released from their drill sergeants for a few weeks to see their families for the holidays. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport sees close to 10,000 troops during this holiday exodus, and each of them is greeted and cared for by USO of Georgia volunteers.