Whidbey Island residents have stepped up to lend a hand to the United Services Organization Puget Sound, which has been providing assistance at SeaTac International Airport to military dependents leaving Japan as part of Operation Pacific Passage, the voluntary military-assisted departure.
“We got a call from a church in town that said they were collecting stuff for the USO and they had a need to get it there,” said James Johnson, general manager of Whidbey-SeaTac Shuttle. “We’re taking it down on a space-available basis, but if we get enough to fill up the van, we’ll take the whole van-load down.”
As far as the USO Puget Sound is concerned, they’re happy to take donations, but said financial contributions might better serve the organization’s immediate needs.
“My best solution is if you want to help, make a donation online,” said Shirley McGann, manager of USO Puget Sound center at SeaTac. “That way, when I run out of bread I can get more bread, or if I run out of diapers, I can get more diapers.”
However, McGann said there are items the center always needs, including feminine hygiene products, plates, napkins, cups and plastic silverware.
“You would be filling a unique niche that a lot of people don’t think of,” McGann said, adding that the majority of the travelers the USO is serving are women with children.
Johnson said donations coming through his office include diapers, formula, coloring books, potato chips, bottled water and juice boxes. Donations can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Whidbey-SeaTac Shuttle office at 1751 NE Goldie Street, Unit A-1, in Oak Harbor. All donations should be delivered in boxes, to make transporting them easier.
The USO SeaTac center provides traveling assistance every day for military members and their families. The center offers a full nursery, children’s games, books, toys, sleeping facilities, showers and comprehensive travel information and assistance.