Our nation’s military continues to answer the call of service, whether fighting the pandemic, responding to natural disasters or deployed on missions overseas. Over the holidays, the United Service Organization (USO) brings traditions of the season to the hundreds of thousands of these service members and their families around the world.
“Our service men and women are spending this special time of year protecting our freedoms, sacrificing time with family and loved ones to serve our country,” said J.D. Crouch II, CEO and president of the USO. “We recognize and honor the selflessness of our military and their families who are often isolated from home. USO Holidays programming helps bridge the distance and strengthen our military by connecting them to the joys of the season.”
USO Holidays programming provides care, comfort and connection through a multitude of services and entertainment offered at its 250 centers around the world and its fleet of mobile USOs. From holiday care packages, drive-thru holiday meals, calls home and bedtime stories read through the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, the USO is bringing a little bit of home to those serving our country.
Giving Tuesday and the USO’s 12 Days of Gratitude, where the nonprofit spotlights the many ways Americans can support the military and their families, kick off this year’s programming. Other USO Holidays programming includes:
- USO Holidays Military Virtual Programming (MVP) Series (Dec. 2 – Dec. 11) – Service members and military families are invited to join livestream events with WWE superstar Mike “The Miz” and his wife, Maryse Mizanin; television personality and fashion designer Kristin Cavallari; actress Angela Kinsey; musician Jessie James Decker; and “A Christmas Story” star Peter Billingsley. Register at USO.org/MVP.
- The USO MVP Holiday Special – The special, which broadcasts on the USO’s Facebook and YouTube platforms later in the month, features virtual visits with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski; sports analyst Terry Bradshaw; and other pro-athletes engaging with service members around the world. Tony Award winning star of stage and film Idina Menzel headlines the virtual special with a performance featuring holiday and iconic Broadway tunes. Featured holiday set decor, provided by Balsam Hill, renowned for its lifelike Christmas Trees inspired by nature, has been gifted to the USO for distribution to active-duty military and families. Visit USO.org/MVP to learn more.
- USO Holidays Care Packages – This year, the organization will distribute 40,000 USO Holidays care packages to service members filled with a snack pack, toiletries, a USO-branded “Yowie” and a Jeep-branded beanie. Throughout the year, the USO sends care packages to service members around the world, thanks in part to FedEx which provides shipping support. Recently, the USO delivered its 3 millionth care package since 2003 to a service member on duty in the Horn of Africa.
- Connecting with Crown Media Family Networks (Dec. 1 – Dec. 11) – Over the holidays, Hallmark Channel sister network Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will air the new original holiday film “USS Christmas,” a military-themed romance with the USO integrated into the storyline. Additional collaborations include a segment with the USO on Hallmark Channel’s daily lifestyle program, “Home & Family” on Dec. 1, as well as a special appearance by Hallmark Channel on the USO’s Coffee Connection Live on Dec. 11.
- NFL in Guam – The NFL and the USO continue their partnership this holiday season with the opening of new USO centers in remote locations, including the new USO Naval Base Guam center opening in early December.
“The holidays are a time of isolation and loneliness for many of our military members and their families,” said Crouch. “But with the support of the American people and our partners, the USO is joining in a united effort to do what we can to bring a smile to someone’s face, letting them know that they are cared about and appreciated.”