By Audrey Bailey
Inside Sandy Hughey’s SUV is an interesting assortment of goodies on the back seat. A reusable grocery bag is filled with travel kits containing deodorant, toothbrushes, tooth paste, lotion, nail clippers and wet wipes. Cradled next to these hygiene essentials, are two large boxes of Slim Jims, a favorite snack of the troops.
These and other donated items are waiting to be packaged and shipped to one of several United Service Organizations scattered around the world. Once received, they will be distributed to any soldier in need of hygiene supplies and goods.
As a 13-year volunteer of USO of Indiana, Hughey has been providing these types of services at the Indianapolis airport center, one of four centers located in Indiana. In addition to the airport, there is a USO center at Camp Atterbury, Muscatatuk, which is an urban training center, and also at Ft. Wayne’s air force facility.
According to Hughey, any church, organization, school, family or individual may send care packages. And, these donations are welcomed throughout the entire year, not just during the holidays. Travel size hygiene products, DVDs, easily preserved food items, and reading materials are a few of the items recommended that individuals and organizations send. For a large size flat rate APO/FPO box, shipping expense is $15.90 and is insured for up to $50.
In operation since 1941, USO of Indiana is a non-profit, chartered organization. It relies almost entirely on in-state funding from businesses, organizations and individuals, to help provide soldiers and their families a “home away from home”.
“USO is a great, great organization,” said Charles Ridings, executive director at USO of Indiana. “And not just to donate to, but certainly to volunteer. It is a wonderful volunteer experience.”
For more, visit uso.org/indiana