SAN ANTONIO - The United Service Organization has been around since 1941 and here in San Antonio, it's celebrating its 50th birthday with a KSAT Community effort to raise funds, volunteers and donated items for our military service members.
There are two centers in San Antonio. San Antonio International offers traveling troops and their families around the clock travel amenities such as snacks, drinks, computer accessibility and a place to relax. That's the type of center retired air force officer Matthew Ralph visits most often.
"It's home away from home. It's sort of like the military's country club," he said. "You get a lot of good treatment from the volunteers."
The downtown USO Center is at 203 West Market Street near the River Walk. It has the same amenities as the airport center, plus movie theaters, pool tables, video gaming stations, and much more.
One of the special rooms is a reading room where a deployed troop member can sit down, read a book on camera and have it videotaped. Then a copy of that video along with a copy of that book is sent to the child he or she is reading to.
This nonprofit specializes in hospitality, but it receives no funding from the government. All its efforts are provided through donations, according to Kristy Walten, the San Antonio Director.
"It's all free for them, and it's here 365 days a year," Walten said.
More than 100,000 troops and family members are were served just last year. About 75 regular volunteers man the centers, so more are always needed.
Thursday, KSAT Community will host a phonebank fund drive to help our two centers.
The phone bank will run from 12-11 p.m. Aside from cash donations, they need things like bottled water, pre-packaged single serving snacks, microwave popcorn, ground coffee, forever postage stamps, and of course, volunteers.
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