By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
The offices where U.S. House of Representatives work in Washington, D.C., are always bustling with busy congressmen and women, their aides and others … including Elmo.
OK, usually not Elmo, but this week he was there, along with his Sesame Street friend, Rosita, to help promote their new USO/Sesame Street tour. They also helped service members deploying all over the world by packing them care packages.
OK, so maybe their furry hands weren’t conducive to the packing part. But they certainly entertained members of Congress and other congressional workers, who loaded tubs of treats and supplies like M&Ms, gum and hand wipes into reusable pouches that are compatible with MOLLE rucksacks for deployed troops.
Why Congress, you ask?
“It’s an opportunity for them to visibly show that they’re supporting our troops overseas,” said USO CEO and President J.D. Crouch. “They appropriate the funds, they help establish the policies and all that, but they don’t necessarily have that kind of visceral contact with the troops. So, a lot of the Congressmen here will write notes and stuff them in these.”
“We don’t have a country unless we’re safe and free, and we are not safe and free unless we have our men and women fighting for us,” said U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Maine, who packed a pouch and also wrote a personal message to the troops through the USO’s Campaign to Connect.
Former Washington Redskins player Derrick Dockery was also there. He kind of stood out (that happens when you’re 6′ 6″), so I felt the need to talk to him. But he really didn’t want to talk football – that’s not his focus anymore. Helping people by working in Congress is. He and his wife, Emma – the daughter of a retired Army colonel – created a nonprofit called Yellow Ribbons United to get professional sports, companies and the public to actively honor military and veterans. The USO stuffing event was just one more way he could contribute.
“I think anytime we have the opportunity to give back and support our men and women who fight for our freedoms is paramount,” said Dockery, who now works for U.S. House Speak Paul Ryan’s office. “It’s an opportunity to show our appreciation. We know they sacrifice everything for us. This is just a token of our appreciation.”
The USO, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary, just kicked off its new stateside tour with Sesame Workshop, which explains why Elmo and Rosita were there … “helping.” The traveling show, which has been running since 2008, is wildly successful among military families.
“[It’s about] really having that fun, engaging time with not only the show but their families, too, and really having a magical time together,” said Cynthia Barron, Sesame Street’s vice president of U.S. social impact. “It really is a bonding opportunity. Military families go through so much, and this is just a fun day out where they can really celebrate together.”
The USO/Sesame Street tour has a military-to-civilian transition theme this year and includes 160 shows at more than 50 military bases throughout the U.S. For more info on show times, click here. You can also get a lot of other resources to help you kids on this webpage.
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