By Ashley Strehle, Fort Riley Public AffairsDecember 31, 2009
FORT RILEY, Kan. - A young girl and her brother weighed their options. Both bundled up in their winter wear, the two of them looked over a wide variety of chips.
After much deliberation, they made their selection and settled down on the floor beside a long table. Their mother and younger sisters were already sitting at the table enjoying their meal.
The siblings were just some of the many Family members and Soldiers who attended the No Dough Dinner on Dec. 14 at Army Community Service.
The dinner, organized by Fort Riley's United Service Organizations, lasted from 5 to 7 p.m.
All Fort Riley Soldiers and Families were invited to attend.
April Blackmon, Fort Riley USO director, said the organization usually holds two No Dough Dinners a month. These dinners normally fall on the last business day before pay day.
In November and December, the dinners were once each month, because of the holidays.
The No Dough Dinner on Dec. 14 was hosted by Our Family for Families First, which is John Picerne of Picerne Military Housing's private charitable foundation.
The foundation was created to support the educational goals of military Families.
Our Family for Families First has sponsored more than one No Dough Dinner, but different organizations or groups sponsor it each time. Occasionally the dinner is sponsored by donations.
"Since we're a nonprofit, essentially every (No Dough Dinner) is sponsored by donations of some sort," Blackmon said.
No Dough Dinners were designed to help Soldiers and Families who might struggle financially before pay day. Another benefit of the dinners is they allow Families to spend time together.
"It's also for Families and Soldiers as a way to take a break," Blackmon said.
She said the dinners also are a way for the USO to thank Soldiers and their Families by taking care of dinner one night.
The USO has been supporting Soldiers and their Families since 1941.
"Our primary mission has always been to take care of Soldiers and Families until every Soldier comes home," Blackmon said. "We started in World War II, and it's what we're going to continue to do."
The USO works to fill in gaps in services in the region, she said.
Fort Riley's USO center is expected to open in late February or early March. Renovations began on the building on Veterans Day.
The center will be in Building 6918 with the Arts and Crafts Center and Information, Ticketing and Reservations Office.
It will provide programs and services to Soldiers and their Families. For more information on the USO or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.