You’ve heard of the USO.
It’s a place that provides a home away from home for our military service members and their families.
The USO of South Texas, the one we have right here at home at Naval Air Station-Corpus Christi, is the second oldest USO in the nation.
All USO’s are independently funded. They do all of their fundraising themselves and get zero money from the national USO.
Decades ago when the national USO was having trouble staying afloat, they decided to cut some branches they thought were not essential.
Our local USO was on that list. But it was saved because the USO of South Texas said they would be self-sustaining and they’ve maintained their word.
Over the years, their building has deteriorated. It’s still usable and has served our military and their families with things they need.
But the building needs updating.
“When I took over, we were not in such good shape,” USO local executive director Sarah Banta said.
The building is 8,000 square feet and in desperate need of repairs.
The Charity League, a local non-profit organization is made of up 40 local ladies. This group will present the USO of South Texas with a check today expected to be well over $250,000.
With the money Charity League raises for the USO, they will transform the upstairs into an area that will be usable.
“We’re going to completely renovate it to include a movie room, a study library for student pilots, a nursing room for moms and two play areas for the kids,” Banta said. “We’ll be able to have kids movies, play dates, people will be able to have their kids’ parties here.”
While the USO is already a home away from home, the renovations will help make it even more of a place our military men and women and their families can stop by and have fellowship.
“What people don’t understand is when they come out of boot camp they come out (with little) … $600 (a month salary) in their pockets and they have to survive, ” says Kim Buchanan, a Coast Guard spouse and a USO volunteer.
Buchanan saw first-hand what the USO does for our military families, especially during last month’s shutdown.
“When they come out of a shutdown to the real world in the Coast Guard life they really struggle and they’re the ones we worry about the most,” she said. “We would send my husband’s unit to utilize the food bank and utilize lunches so they would save the money for their rent.”
The USO of South Texas and its services were used more than 550 times during the shutdown.
“It’s hard for them to come in and say ‘I need help. I need something.’ They’re trained to be very independent,” Banta said. “So when they do come in and they have a need they’re facing we do everything we can to accommodate that.”
And with Charity League’s donation, the USO of South Texas will be able to provide more for the people that provide so much for us.
” We come to work and say we made a difference in someone’s life and now Charity League can say that with us,” Banta said.
Charity League will present a check to the USO later today after a Style lunch and fashion show at the American Bank Center. We’ll be there and let you know how much the ladies raised in one year, tonight on KRIS 6 at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.