This evening I volunteered at the USO Clark After Dark block party which celebrates America’s military service members and their families. Proceeds from the event benefit the USO of Illinois programs and services that serve over 300,000 military personnel and military families in Illinois. It was held on Hubbard Street between Clark Street & LaSalle Street for one night only.
Like many of the summer street festivals in Chicago, there was food, drinks, vendors and live music by 16 Candles , Liquidated Damages, & Dr. Bombay. In addition, there were games and a treasure hunt for attendees. Unlike other street festivals, nearly every one who walked through the gates made the suggested donation of $10, and many even opted for a VIP experience with a private tent that included a catered buffet and beers.
My assignment was gate #1 and along with several other volunteers we collected donations, handed out wristbands, and checked in prepaid guests. The crowd was light, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves on a cool August evening.
The celebrities included the Miller Girls who wore khaki uniforms similar to those issued to women during wartime in the 1940’s, and Chicago talk radio host, Roe Conn. The US Army was represented with a couple of soldiers in a Humvee, and two Marines pulled up in a SUV decked out in US Marine Corp symbols including an Officer’s Sword.
It was easy work, made easier by having team mates who already volunteered for the USO. I started volunteering for the USO in 2011 as part of my Fifty for 50 goal, and I continue to volunteer with them when I am able.
A non-profit organization, the USO of Illinois is fully supported by the generosity of the American people. For more information on USO of Illinois, ways to volunteer or to make a donation visit the www.usoofillinois.org website today.