FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Although the United Services Organization is temporarily closed on Fort Leonard Wood, the team has been finding new ways to safely help service members and their families.
For the past two months, donated items, such as food and toiletry supplies, are being delivered to units across the installation by USO volunteers and employees.
“The most requested items currently are snacks and toiletries,” said Kelly Brownfield, Western Missouri Regional Operations director of the USO. “With social distancing and enhanced procedures being implemented within units, our service members are spending more time within the barracks, which has created an additional need for units to maintain additional supplies on hand. When we are not unloading hundreds of snacks for our military, we are prepping the delivery of toiletry kits, which next to the request for food items, has been the second-most requested item.”
According to USO delivery volunteer Heather Kline, there are mitigation protocols in place to maintain the safety of everyone involved – to include face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer when social distancing cannot be maintained.
“Sometimes the units have to help me unload everything,” Kline said. “With other deliveries, I’m able to put everything next to their door and then they can come out to get them after I’m back in my Jeep. Either way, we’re letting our service members know their USO is still working to support them, even if our building is temporarily closed.”
“One of our biggest concerns from the beginning was ensuring we were delivering the mission safely,” Brownfield added. “As much as we know that everyone wants to help out, we have maintained a small group of two to four helpers at a time to prep and deliver supplies, as well as having special procedures in place for units who pick up supplies. By keeping our group small, we are hoping to limit exposure and keep everyone safe.”
Kline, who has been making two to three deliveries each week, said she’s honored for the opportunity to serve as a USO volunteer, especially during “this challenging time.”
“It’s my small way of giving back to this remarkable Fort Leonard Wood community,” she said.
In addition to keeping units stocked up on groceries, the USO has increased their social media footprint over the past couple of months as well. Their Facebook page address is https://www.facebook.com/FLWUSOCLUB.
“We have had to think outside of the box, using social media to deliver our message and our programs,” Brownfield said. “From our daily boost, to our cooking segments for our military spouses, to online makeup seminars and interactive scavenger hunts – with many more surprises still to be revealed – we hope our community has enjoyed the unique programming.”
Brownfield said the USO has been serving by the side of the U.S. military since 1941, and “that will never change.”
“As life throws us unique challenges and circumstances, it has been our honor to deliver and carry out our mission,” Brownfield said. “We will continue to work behind the scenes, for as long as we need to, to ensure our military has what they need each and every day.”