Donations delivered to USO Welcome Center at airport

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A truck from Memorial Hospital came to Channel 4 Wednesday to pick up the community's donations for the United Service Organizations Welcome Center at Jacksonville International Airport.

More than 8,000 snacks and personal care items were collected last month at Channel 4 and Memorial Hospital drop-off locations, up from 5,700 items last year.

The donations are all for servicemen and women traveling through the airport.

"That feels really good that the community is giving back to the military, because sometimes you think that people don't really appreciate you sometimes for the things you do," said Lawyer Lewis, who served 25 years in the Navy.

Lewis said he's thankful to have a place to go, because he travels often.

"It's a place where you can go where you have something in common with the guys, talk to the young guys, talk to the old guys and make friends along the way," Lewis said.

The Jacksonville USO is 100 percent self-funded, so its success depends on the community. That's why Channel 4 and Memorial Hospital partnered up to supply it with what it needs.

"This gives them that little comfort of home when they are coming or going from overseas, sometimes having an emotional time with their families, and this just provides them a little comfort from home," Memorial spokeswoman Ilyssa Drumm said.

USO Executive Director Mike O'Brien said the organization is thankful for the donations and hopes they help military men and women feel at home.

"They make the ultimate sacrifices, I mean, for all our freedoms," O'Brien said. "We are coming up on the Fourth of July again here, and all the freedoms we enjoy and take for granted every day."

The Jacksonville USO serves 3,000 military men and women a month. If you missed the chance to donate supplies but want to give, go to

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