Friday, September 7, 2012

Publicity helps USO, but your donation would help more - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Diane Jennings’ excellent Labor Day weekend piece on the local USO’s struggles to maintain its vital services roused your local editorial board to action. It’s nice to see an editorial pay off, as it apparently has so far.

Our editorial challenged the many people across the political spectrum who say they “support the troops” to put their money and efforts where their slogans are:

So here’s your go-and-do. The USO needs nonperishable food items â€" chips, snacks, nuts, crackers â€" cases of soft drinks and juices, books and toiletries to give to soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen passing through.

A story in Sunday’s Dallas Morning News sparked a few calls and emails, but we can do better. Donate yourself, get some neighbors together, round up your Scout troop or church group or service group or some folks at the office. This is a perfect class activity for any school, too.

Like it or not, we remain a nation at war. These are fellow Americans taking on a task few of us are willing or able to do ourselves, and some of them won’t make it home. The least we can do is show them that we appreciate their sacrifice. And that we support them.

Rhenda White-Brunner, director of USO DFW, reports that inquiries and contributions are on the rise and that she expects even more in the coming days. She also sent along a photo of one person’s generosity:

This donation is from one individual who went to Costco and got a super deal. He didn’t want to be in the photo and was doing it in memory of a friend who had recently passed and to help the USO. He also bought batteries for us. We had a couple that came in today with a $500 check, a gentleman from Rowlett called and plans to do a church and neighborhood drive, we had the parents of a service member who has been in 12 years bring donations, and those are just the ones that I directly helped. Staff have assisted others.  I just wanted you and Diane both to know that I believe we will see this build momentum.

An unintended consequence of the military ending regular rest-and-relaxation flights in March had been a sharp drop in the donations that make the USO possible. The cheering, flag-waving crowds are gone, but the need remains. Even without the R&R flights, the D/FW station still serves about 12,000 troops a month, on pace to meet, greet and feed about 150,000 this year. That’s not far from the numbers during the Welcome Home a Hero days.

We have a decent weather weekend ahead, so no excuses. As a gentle reminder, here’s how you can help:

Items may be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at USO offices at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal B14, upper level, on the nonsecure side.

Among the needs: Peanut butter or cheese crackers; peanuts/mixed nuts; chips; trail mix; chewing gum; canned soft drinks or juice; travel-size baby powder, shaving cream or deodorant; batteries; diapers; paper plates; paper towels; books for adults or children.

If you’d rather donate by cash or check or for more information, contact Rhenda White-Brunner, USO DFW director, at rwhite-brunner@uso.org or 972-574-8764.

Or mail a donation to USO DFW, P.O. Box 613306, D/FW Airport, Texas 75261, or visit www.uso.org/dfwand click Support Your Local USO.

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