Charlotte Hornets Team Up with USO North Carolina, Assemble 3,000 ‘Military Care’ Kits for Deploying Service Members Throughout the State

USO North Carolina recently teamed up with the Charlotte Hornets to build 3,000 Military Care kits at the Spectrum Center in downtown Charlotte, N.C., April 3, and will be handed out to military service members throughout North Carolina as they head out on or return from deployments.

This event, dubbed the ‘Military Care,’ event is the ninth year the Charlotte Hornets have assembled care kits for the military community in North Carolina.

“This annual initiative allows us to show our troops how much we appreciate them,” Hornets Sports & Entertainment president and vice chairman Fred Whitfield said. “Our organization is committed to supporting our military at every stage of their service, including pre- and post-deployment. We are pleased to continue working with USO North Carolina to distribute these care kits to service members stationed across the state.”

USO North Carolina and Charlotte Hornets staff, volunteers, service members stationed in the local area and the Charlotte Hornets players themselves joined togehter to assemble 3,000 care kits for North Carolina deploying service members at the Spectrum Center in downtown Charlotte, N.C., April 3 as part of the Military Care event. | Photo credit Barry Morris

The USO, in partnership with local organizations like the Charlotte Hornets takes great pride in providing service members with a connection to home through a snack care package or kit, assembled with a mixture of healthy treats and drink mixes, and are designed to boost their morale and send them off knowing they are thought of and cared for.

“These care packs really provide a touch of home for our service members as they are deploying and returning home after months of being away from their families,” said USO North Carolina Executive Director, Kelli Willoughby. “To have the community come together to support our military service members like this really says a lot about the Charlotte Hornets and the USO’s support for them.”

Those participating in the Military Care event were USO North Carolina and Charlotte Hornets staff, volunteers and the Charlotte Hornets players themselves who joined in the fun in support of North Carolina’s military community.

“The military and basketball are kind of similar, there are both competitive,” said Charlotte Hornets forward, JT Thor. “They [the military] are risking their lives on the fronts lines, and its blessing to give back to them who sacrifice so much for us.”

Front (from left to right); Charlotte Hornets mascot Hugo, Hornets forward Kai Jones, and NBA legend and former Hornets player Tyrone Curtis “Muggsy” Bogues, help to assemble 3,000 care kits for North Carolina deploying service members at the Spectrum Center in downtown Charlotte, N.C., April 3. | Photo credit Barry Morris

The USO’s Care Package program itself harkens back to the USO’s early years, when Americans packed boxes full of little “tastes of home” to keep deployed service members connected to the people, places and things they cherish. Those small gestures provide the comfort and care that make a difference for service members stationed far from home.

“Receiving care packages while forward deployed is a significant morale booster for service members. Deployments can be long and challenging, and being away from home, family, and friends for extended periods can be emotionally taxing,” said Sgt. Maj. Koblin Hayes, Inspector-Instructor Sergeant Major, Combat Logistics Battalion-451.

In 2021 alone, USO staff and supporters delivered over 200,000 USO Care Packages to members of the U.S. Armed Forces serving all around the world – an impressive feat considering that each individual care package was hand-stuffed. One of the ways USO Care Packages are typically assembled is through care package stuffing events, like the one with the Charlotte Hornets. At these exciting community occasions, USO staff members, volunteers, corporate partners and, on some occasions, the general public, come together to stuff hundreds to thousands of USO Care Packages.

“Care packages are a tangible expression of gratitude and support that can make a significant difference in the lives of deployed service members,” said Hayes. “They serve as a reminder that the sacrifices of service members are appreciated and valued, and they can help to boost morale and foster a sense of connection with loved ones back home.”

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