Santa’s Workshop welcomed USO volunteers for an open house Sunday afternoon, where the organization’s loyal helpers mingled and enjoyed snacks to the tunes of holiday music.
“It’s a thank you to our volunteers, to recognize their service,” said Isabel Hubbard, Fort Hood USO programs manager. “They’re here 365 days a year.”
Longtime volunteer Staff Sgt. Jericho-Anthony Delrosario, 49th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, enjoyed the treats and socializing with his fellow workers. He has volunteered with the USO since 1995.
“It’s an organization that really helps the soldiers and family members to feel at home,” he said, especially with moving to new duty stations.
Delrosario cited times he has used the USO’s services himself, including an instance where he stayed the night in an airport location.
“I like to give back to the USO for what they’ve done for me,” he said.
The staff sergeant fills his free time with volunteer work, especially since his wife of 34 years is living in Colorado.
He is only able to visit her annually at Christmas-time.
“It’s very hard,” he said, of being apart from his family, including five grandchildren.
Even before he joined the service, Delrosario liked to serve people. His previous careers included work in the hospitality industry and banking.
“I joined the Army because I thought there was more I can do,” he said.
Now, in addition to his work with the USO, Delrosario dedicates his time to several local church youth groups and choirs. “I just wish I could be in two places at one time,” he said.
One of the best moments he had working with the USO involved meeting the worldwide organization’s president, who thanked him for his service at Fort Carson, Colo.
The USO has 27,000 volunteers worldwide, with Fort Hood USO boasting more than 100 registered volunteers for 2013.
In the past year, those volunteers logged more than 22,000 hours working for area soldiers and families through a variety of programs.
“The USO is volunteer-driven,” said Ruben Bocanegra, the organization’s volunteer coordinator. “Without them ... there are only three staff members. We want to give back to them."