How the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program Connects Military Families During Deployment
A military deployment tests a family’s stamina to the breaking point. That’s why I love sharing efforts like the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program; anything that helps connect families during deployment is amazing! Today, I’ll be talking all about the USO, the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, and how it unites parents and kids across the world during a challenging time. In the past, I’ve shared lots about the USO and their work around the world. I’m so glad to be bringing you this information today!
You likely remember other campaigns in the past that I’ve promoted, including the USO T-Shirt Campaign. The USO was a huge help in our family when my husband was deployed; we so appreciated the time, love, and care of all the incredible volunteers. It makes all the difference in the world just to feel seen and cared for, particularly when your family is facing a challenge like deployment.
Who is the USO?
The United Service Organization (USO) has been around since World War II; it’s a powerhouse volunteer organization whose mission is to support and encourage service members and their families. There are dozens of incredible programs created and supported by the USO, including ones to support soldiers from enlistment to transition to civilian life. There are programs to help military spouses, and many ways for service members to connect with family back home during their deployment.
The USO maintains a presence around the world, in over 250 locations, and supports 5 million service members and their families. What an incredible network! Make sure to check out their website to view all the efforts the USO volunteers are involved in, and see how you might join in. They offer career networking and counseling for military spouses, stock USO centers around the world for service members to relax and enjoy themselves while deployed, and host call centers so the military can connect with family back home for free.
Who is Bob Hope and How Did He Influence the Program’s Creation?
Though you may know him for his legendary comedy, Bob Hope was a staunch advocate for the well-being of troops and their families throughout his life. He traveled the world putting on USO shows for military service members for over 60 years! In 2018, Miranda Hope, Bob Hope’s granddaughter, started the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program to honor her grandfather’s memory and provide story time on demand for military families around the world, at no cost to them. Miranda said it this way: “For just a few moments, Bob Hope and what he stood for and the reading program make a warzone disappear. And that’s not a small thing to do.”
Throughout his time supporting troops, Bob Hope encouraged and entertained service members through World War II, to Vietnam, to the Gulf War. You’ve probably seen videos of his performances, or heard his comedy during these visits. He made trips to outposts and battleships to remind our military that they were not alone, even when it seemed that way! His memory lives on in the Bob and Delores Hope Foundation, and is still touching thousands of lives.
What is the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program and How Does It Help Military Families?
One of the most special parts about parent and child bonding is story time. As you know, our family values books and reading as one of the most important parts of child development. For kids with parents overseas during a deployment, that ritual is greatly missed. The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program lets a service member walk into a USO center, record him/herself reading a bedtime story to a child, then mail the recording and a copy of the book back home. Whenever it’s time for a story from mom or dad, that child can feel connected and loved.
One of the biggest challenges to military families during deployment is maintaining a sense of connection, particularly with young children. Being part of storytime, no matter what time zone the parent is in, can help keep that connection strong.
How Can You Help?
If you’d like to get involved with the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, there is a simple donation site on USO.org that allows you to purchase a Long Distance Bedtime Story on behalf of a military family. There’s even a page on the USO’s website that allows you to view all gifts for service members. What an amazing way to appreciate the heroes who protect us every day.