FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — In celebration of the United Service Organizations at Fort Cavazos’ 22nd birthday and Fort Cavazos youth returning to school, the USO at Fort Cavazos hosted a Back to School Birthday Bash Aug. 5 at their headquarters here.
With a state fair-like theme, there were many snacks and drinks including hot dogs, snow cones, cotton candy and lemonade as well as games for children to try including ring toss, football toss and can knock down. There were also cupcakes because what is a birthday celebration without cupcakes?
Benjamin Griffin, center operations and program manager at the USO at Fort Cavazos, said military families are in the scope of those they strive to serve.
“Our mission is to keep service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation,” he said. “Our scope is families. They serve too in their own way. They may not be in the Army directly, but they are a part of the service because of what they’re doing to keep our nation safe by simply being there and supporting their service members.”
The line to enter the event wrapped around the front of the USO at Fort Cavazos headquarters and Griffin was thrilled to see so many people eager to attend the event.
“To see all of the kids and all the parents, raring to go to come in and help us celebrate out birthday was phenomenal,” he said. “And we had our therapy dogs from our Canine Program. They were going around to the different lines and interacting and greeting (attendees). Who doesn’t love a good dog? It made me really happy to see that.”
Though it was the organization’s birthday, the USO at Fort Cavazos decided to do the gift giving by handing out 181 backpacks.
The USO Fort Cavazos partnered with Freedom Mortgage to be able to give out the backpacks to children entering kindergarten through 5th grade as part of the USO’s Rucksacks to Backpacks Program. They were filled with basic school supplies including a notepad, a ruler, pencils and colored pencils.
Nadine Melvin attended with her son Lennox Melvin, 5, who will be entering Pre-K. He was one of the first to receive a backpack and chose one that was red — his favorite color.
Nadine expressed that the USO “is the best” because they provide events and opportunities for service members and their families who may be far away from their loved ones.
“(Military families) make so many sacrifices,” Nadine said. “They move so much. They say goodbye to friends and family so far away. (The USO) kind of feels like a big family to us.”
Griffin said that he understands, first hand, how stressful the beginning of the new school year can be as his wife is a teacher and they have two school-aged children. He also understands that stress can be heightened if a family has recently moved to a new post. He hopes that the families that attended the USO Back-to-School Birthday Bash had some of that stress relieved and know the USO is there to support them.
“It’s always nice to be able to share the love for what the USO can provide for the community,” he said. “To start that school year off right is important because we want to have our kids be able to be happy about learning, happy about excelling through school, happy about doing well in school and feeling comfortable and good about themselves for this upcoming school year.”
The USO at Fort Cavazos’ next event will be a movie screening on Cooper Field on Sept. 15 in celebration of the 1st Cavalry Division’s birthday. “Mario” is the featured film and some of the characters will make appearances.
For more information on the USO at Fort Cavazos, their upcoming events and other opportunities, including their Canine Program, visit their website https://fortcavazos.uso.org/ or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/USOFortCavazos/.