The USO has boosted the morale of soldiers since the early 1940s. It's a job that volunteers take seriously, but they enlisted the community's help Saturday. Our Elizabeth Jeneault has more on how such events help keep the non-profit successful.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- On Saturday, USO volunteers were off post for a change. They were at the Salmon Run Mall reaching out to community members, asking for their John Hancock as a sign of support for soldiers.
"We’re attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the most signatures on a flag,"
explained USO Fort Drum Director Karen Clark. "It is a USO flag and we're trying to get 34,000 signatures in all."
The Fort Drum chapter set a goal of attaining 1,440 signatures. As of mid-afternoon Saturday, that goal wasn't far from reach.
It was an opportunity locals jumped at.
"Our son-in-law is a military member, so we're here to show support for him and all the others that do a great job for us," said Nancy Youngs, a Henderson resident.
Such signs of support are what the USO now prides itself on.
With the war winding down and more soldiers returning home, their focus has slightly changed since the organization launched in the early 1940s.
"Back in the 40s, the USO was heavily involved with trying to make sure that the morale of our men and women was very high," explained Clark.
The USO did that through entertainment. Concerts they organized with Bob Hope stand as a symbol of the non-profit's support.
"Anytime you see an entertainer from home it brings you back to home and makes you think of what it's like and all of the freedoms we have in America," said Clark.
Now, entertainment makes up 20% of what the USO does.
They say their main focus is instead on the day-to-day within their centers.
"The bulk of what we do everyday is just helping to lift the spirits of our troops and families," said Clark.
Whether that be through a hug, some food, a nice place to relax or even an effort to break a world record.
If you'd like to sign the flag, you can do so here.