United Through Reading 250K Milestone Celebration
By: Christian Pelusi
The USO, in partnership with United Through Reading®, has reached 250,000 recorded readings of books through United Through Reading’s Military Program. The program is offered at more than 70 USO Centers across the globe so, appropriately, the USO is celebrating this milestone by launching Reading Around the World.
Reading Around the World will take place at approximately 30 USO Centers and will ask servicemen and women to videotape a book reading to send home to the their families. The event will begin on Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. EST in Japan (7 a.m. their time on Nov. 20) and as the globe spins, the event will work its way from the Pacific to bases and centers in Southwest Asia, Europe and then back to stateside USO Centers.
“[We hope] to highlight this worldwide program that touches so many lives and is one of the most requested programs offered in USO Centers,” said USO Communications Manager Andrea Sok. “[Our] hopes are to show the public and military families worldwide the power of connecting through reading.”
United Through Reading’s Military Program is one of the USO’s most requested programs among deployed troops. Troops visit a USO Center and record themselves reading a book to their child. The USO ships the book and the recording to their family back home. The USO then asks the family back home to complete the circle of communication and take a photo of their child watching the recording to send back to their deployed parent. The program has been keeping military families connected during deployments since 2006.
Reaching 250,000 has wowed all involved in United Through Reading’s Military Program, including USO Programs Manager Alexandra Volp, who oversees the program.
“It’s exceeded our expectations,” she said. “Not only ours, but United Through Reading®’s expectations. They’ve impacted 1.5 million beneficiaries through the program. Every single year we’ve seen it grow.”
Whether it is a Dr. Seuss title, which, according to Volp, tend to be the most popular with troops who tend to reach back for books that influenced them as children, or new ones like “Goodnight Moon,” the program’s importance is obvious.
“It’s giving them that time to connect,” Volp said. “It’s all about the connection. Giving them in very stressful times, 30 minutes, putting them in a position of being back at home and that sense of calm and normalcy again.
“From the moment they come in, someone is walking them through the process so it’s laid out for them. For those deployed, they have so much on their mind that the USO staff can take care of everything for them.”