Local News

USO wants a few good donors to help traveling soldiers

Posted July 9, 2010 5:05 p.m. EDT

— The United Service Organization is looking for a few good donations to keep it providing refreshment and relaxation to soldiers passing through Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

RDU has one of the USO's 145 clubs, which are airport lounges reserved exclusively for service members and their families.

"Their home away from home is what this center is to them," Patricia Dezetter, with the USO, said.

USO volunteer Hy Marks, who voluntarily enlisted to fight in World War II, said he's determined to keep the lounge stocked and running.

"I feel this is payback time for me," Marks said. "They do so much for us."

Volunteers run the private, non-profit group, and the RDU office has more helping hands than it needs. A waiting list for volunteers has 125 people on it.

However, the USO is in need of supplies: bottled water, chips and other snack items; new furniture, including recliners and computer desks; and a new refrigerator to replace on the that broke recently.

A second USO club will open in RDU's new Terminal 2 early next year, and the need will be even greater, Dezetter said.

Retired Army soldier Wayne Kabat relaxed in the USO lounge between flights Friday.

"Sitting in that airplane for a long time, it's good to come here and get a good cup of hot coffee and some good chow and continue on," Kabat said.

Thousands of service members and their relatives pass through the USO lounge at RDU each month. They can grab a snack, watch a movie or TV from the comfort of a recliner, check their email or even catch some sleep.

"Their door is always open. They're very friendly," Kabat said. "They're here to help the service member, and even though I'm retired, it doesn't make any difference. They're just great people."