I’ve recently become an active volunteer for the non-profit United Services Organization (USO). You know, the people who flew Bob Hope all over the world to visit American troops. They do much more than book celebrities, though. They have centers all over the world where troops and their families can get a cup of coffee, a cookie, a familiar bit of language. They can also make free phone calls to loved ones back in the States. And, thanks to another non-profit organization, United Through Reading, soldiers can now record themselves reading children’s books for their kids. This is the program in which I am most involved right now.
In a private room, we set up a digital video camera that records onto mini DVD disks. The soldiers select one book per child, and then they have up to 30 minutes to record whatever message they want for their families. Then we package the book, the DVD (playable in any DVD player or computer), and a flyer about the program, and mail it to the family at the USO’s expense. It really warms my heart to be a part of this wonderful program, to see the smiles on the soldiers’ faces, and to hear the heartfelt thanks for allowing them this opportunity to connect with their families, whom they may not get to see for quite some time afterwards.
If you’re looking for a charity to support, and you understand the value of reading to children (which I’m sure you do!), then please consider donating to the USO and United Through Reading.