Today we went to story time at the USO. You may think the USO exists only to provide care packages and concert entertainment to deployed military, but their centers are actually designed to provide outreach to military families too. There is a USO center near most major military bases, and they provide a variety of services. Ours hosts a lot of events for young children and families, since Jacksonville is over-run by little ones! Some are holiday events, like Thanksgiving and Christmas meals/parties. I think these are held in the large ballroom, which is where Sophia says Beauty and the Beast live. :-) Others are occasional events, like the free tickets to Sesame Street Live's deployment show. But story time is a weekly event. Every Tuesday at 10:30 AM they have a volunteer read from a new Little Golden Book in the cozy library room. Every child who attends gets their own book to take home! Afterward, they serve lunch. For $1, kids can get a hot dog or chicken nugget meal, with a juice box and a jello cup. The adult meals are discounted too. All 3 of us ate for $5.75 today! They also have a nice little playroom where the kids can hang out before and after lunch. There are plenty of books there, along with blocks and various donated toys. Adults can browse the table full of free donated novels and movies, too. We have gone a couple times now, and my kids always enjoy it. The only drawback is that parking is really limited. The USO in on the waterfront right behind the courthouse, and with all the construction downtown the courthouse patrons seems to overflow the local parking lots. But I encourage you to check out the USO as a good resource. The discounted lunch is available to anyone around 11 AM each day. Their lounge area with computers and internet is always available, and I think they will fax things for you, too. They also have ping pong tournaments if anyone else husband becomes addicted during a deployment, like mine did. :-) To find out all they offer, and to locate your local USO center, go to http://www.uso.org/
Let me know if anyone else has used the USO services!