Congressional Leaders Help USO Build Care Packages for Troops
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 23, 2013 Congressional leaders pitched in on Capitol Hill yesterday to load care packages for service members abroad.
USO President Sloan D. Gibson, left, discusses the contents of a care package with U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Florida and Sesame Street's Cookie Monster during a biannual USO care package service project event on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 22, 2013. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
At the USO’s biannual care package service project event -- a joint effort with Sesame Workshop -- volunteers placed phone cards, writing utensils, popcorn, tissue and other useful items into 2,000 individual packages for troops.
“Even though our presence may be winding down in Afghanistan, these packages are going to mean an awful lot to our troops who are serving in harm’s way,” said USO President Sloan D. Gibson. “We’re sending a clear message to our troops that are serving our country overseas, [and] we appreciate everyone who has volunteered to be here today to help us.”
Gibson expressed his gratitude to the Sesame Workshop, which has partnered with the USO since 2008 and has entertained 368,000 military family members in more than 630 shows at 143 bases in 33 states and 11 countries.
“And they’ve traveled over 125,000 miles during that period of time,” he added. “We’re really proud of that partnership.”
Lynn Chwatsky, vice president for outreach initiatives and partners for the Sesame Workshop, also shared her appreciation for the opportunity to continue helping America’s families.
“This partnership with the USO has truly allowed us to deliver on our mission of helping all children in need, [and] to help all children grow and achieve their highest potential,” she said.
Whether it’s helping children learn their alphabet and their numbers, showing them how to maintain a healthy lifestyle or helping them through some challenges in their lives, Sesame is there for them, Chwatsky noted.
“And we’re committed to our military families -- we have been since 2006, with our Military Families Initiative,” she said. “What this amazing partnership with the USO allows us to do is reach these families directly.”
Chwatsky said the care packages would deliver some “love, joy and hope” to service members, and let them know “their friends in the USO and Sesame are there for them.”
Gibson also welcomed the newest USO congressional caucus co-chairman, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, who retired as a command sergeant major in the Army National Guard and was one of many congressional leaders who stopped by to load care packages.
“Thank you to each of you, the volunteers that are here,” Walz said. “I can’t express my gratitude [enough,] on behalf of the people of southern Minnesota and across this country. Thanks for bringing a little bit of comfort to our warriors who are down range, and just as importantly, to their families. When you’re on the receiving end of these packages like [our troops] have been, it really means a lot.”
Congressional volunteers also included U.S. Reps. Buck McKeon of California, Bill Posey of Florida and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, as well as U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and many congressional staffers.