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Local News

USO Plans Big Thanksgiving For Local Military

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USO Northwest Florida
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Northwest Florida’s United Service Organization is preparing for its annual Thanksgiving feast at its facility aboard NAS Pensacola. The calls are going out for the public to lend a hand.

If you’re active-duty personnel based in this area, chances are you’re fairly new to the military. And if that’s the case, you have to choose between going home for Thanksgiving or going home for Christmas – because of finances or duty assignment, you can’t do both. USO Director Heidi Blair says that’s where they come in.

“We’re able to provide to them that touch of home,” said Blair. “Our volunteers at the Pensacola International Airport location tell the service member, ‘You make sure you go to the USO on board NAS, and enjoy Thanksgiving there.”

The celebration kicks off Thanksgiving Day with a traditional meal. Pen Air Federal Credit Union has donated 200 turkeys. But Blair says they still have a long shopping list.

“We need green beans and cranberry sauce,” Blair says. “Soda, pies, desserts, peanut frying oil, propane, paper plates, cups; along with large foil pans and commercial-grade aluminum foil.”

Other needs include store-bought pies and other desserts; charcoal, ice, individually packaged snack items, and 20 bags of corn chips. Afterward, the food and entertainment will continue through Sunday in an effort to create a home-away-from-home atmosphere.

“We’re also doing a chili cook-off and we’re having a football feeding frenzy, an X-BOX tournament, and movie marathons.”

Besides the groceries, the local USO is looking for volunteers to help out with the Thanksgiving weekend. And Blair says both needs are actually year-round.

The holiday events are the latest chapters in the long history of the USO, which has 160 locations in 27 states and 14 countries. Its history dates back to the start of World War II, when it was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

For more information on volunteering for Thanksgiving weekend, contact the local USO at 455-8280 Option-4. For cash donations, visit uso.org/northwestflorida.