Bringing the Taste of Home to Service Members and their Families Throughout the U.S. Southeast during The Holidays

USO locations throughout the U.S. Southeast make it a point this time of the year to serve up festive treats to help service members and their families enjoy a bit of the season.

From serving up hot chocolate, providing a visit with Santa for families, or service members conducting training or about to deploy, to welcoming military families to enjoy holiday cookies at a USO Holidays event, the USO is committed to bringing a little of home to them no matter where their service takes them.

“I love delivering USO Holiday programs, and it brings such joy to our volunteers and their ability to give back to service members and families especially in this season,” said Ann Jarvis, Executive Director of USO Fort Campbell-Nashville. “We want to be that place where families can come and have fun and participate in activities especially now when so much of our local population is deployed to Eastern Europe and we have families and spouses still in the area here back at home.”

Here’s a look at some of the festive holiday programming the USO provided to service members and their families throughout the U.S. Southeast:

USO Fort Campbell-Nashville

Military families at Fort Campbell enjoyed a USO Holly Jolly Holiday event Dec. 16, where families enjoyed a visit with “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and were able to select and wrap holiday gifts graciously donated by local organizations and collected during the 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division’s annual Toy Ruck march for military families in need.

“Thank you all so much for putting such an incredible event together and to everyone who donated and volunteered,” said Brittany Lynn a military spouse whose family is about to conduct a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move. “Both my children enjoyed everything, and I cannot express how much it meant to be able to be a part of this event before we PCS.

USO Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield

The USO staff and volunteers at USO Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield hosted a special reading of the popular holiday classic “Polar Express,” the book Dec. 13., read by the one and only – Santa Claus. During the event, military families enjoyed freshly made hot cocoa and cookies, and children were able to make reindeer food.

USO Gulf Coast

USO Gulf Coast held a special “Polar Express,” holiday event of their own, where military families enjoyed cookies, hot chocolate, crafts, and a visit with Santa Clause at the Mississippi Coast Model Railroad Museum, on top of a dozen other holiday events supported USO Gulf Coast staff and volunteers throughout the Gulf Coast region.

USO South Carolina

For more than a decade, USO staff and volunteers with USO South Carolina have worked with Fort Jackson leadership to provide support to over 10,000 soldiers and trainees traveling home for the holidays.

“We are proud to be by the side of our Fort Jackson soldiers, trainees and cadre as they travel home for the holidays. From locations on Fort Jackson and our USO center at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, our team of donors and volunteers are sharing their time around the clock to provide a snack and friendly smile to each and every one of them,” said USO South Carolina Executive Director Joanie Thresher.

To support these young service members traveling home from Dec. 16 - 20, USO staff and volunteers spent up to 15 hours a day the entire week these young soldiers were transitioning home, ensuring they experience a safe and pleasant voyage.

USO Georgia

In addition to the soldiers traveling home from Fort Jackson, over 8,500 soldiers traveled from Fort Benning, Ga., with another 3,000 from Fort Gordon, all making their way home for the holidays.

Roughly 3,000 soldiers from Fort Benning and Fort Gordon made their connecting flights through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where they were greeted by USO Georgia staff and volunteers, receiving a continuum of USO support throughout their journey home.

“The USO has undeniably made us feel at home,” said Pfc Kaitlyn Culley. “It’s such a welcome break, after being away from family for the past eight weeks.”

USO North Carolina

The festive holiday spirit was in overdrive in North Carolina. From breakfast with Santa, to a meet and greet with the infamous “Gunny Claus,” at Marine Corps Air Station New River, to a special “Santa’s Workshop,” held at Fort Bragg, thousands of military families enjoyed crafts, hot cocoa, and holidays treats while visiting and taking photos with Santa Claus.

USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia

Staff and volunteers with USO Hampton Roads and Central Virginia (HRCV) made their rounds, delivering holiday cheer and a touch of home to service members and their families throughout southern Virginia. From popping popcorn, handing out cookies and children’s books to military families at U.S. Army Fort Lee, to celebrating national cookie week and a visit from Santa with military families and single service members training at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, and Dam Neck Naval Base, USO HRCV ensured the local military community enjoyed the holiday season with warmth and laughter.

USO Florida

All throughout Florida, service members and their families enjoy numerous USO Holidays events to celebrate the holidays. At Naval Station Mayport, the USO Florida in partnership with the USO’s founding partner the Coca-Cola Company, and Coca-Cola Beverages Florida ushered in the holidays Dec. 1, with Coca-Cola’s Holiday Caravan and visit with Santa, providing a special delivery of smiles and precious memories for the service members and their families in attendance.

Meanwhile, in Northwest Florida the USO provided holiday crafts, stocking decorating and visits with Santa and a few four-legged friends to help spread some holiday cheer with service members and their families around the Pensacola area.

The USO – with the help of USO volunteers who contributed well over 4,000 volunteers this past month, and donors and partners – strengthens our military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, especially during the holiday season. Although our service members and their families may be away from home for the holidays, the USO brings a little of home to them.

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