USO Illinois Programs Go Digital

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COVID-19 is a global health emergency impacting everyone. However, for our troops and military families this pandemic is creating additional hardships for individuals who are already sacrificing while they continue to serve the county and carry out missions around the world.

During this unprecedented time of social distancing, quarantines and isolation, the USO’s mission of strengthening service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country is more critical than ever before.

Many military members are restricted to base and under precautionary quarantine.

Travel restrictions have interfered with the military’s Permanent Change of Station schedule, leaving hundreds of families separated from their belongings already shipped overseas.

Military spouses with deployed husbands or wives are under enormous stress managing as single parents in addition to dealing with inadequate childcare and home schooling.

USO Illinois has stepped up to create digital programs and services to relieve some of the stress our military and their families are facing.

Virtual BINGO – USO Illinois has hosted several games of America’s favorite game: BINGO! Over 300 military youth and service members have participated! The lucky winners of each game are shipped a board game directly from an online retailer.

“Bingo provided my son with an activity to change his monotonous day. He needed this.” – Military Family

The GREAT Scavenger Hunt – Nearly 40 families participated in our second virtual USO Youth Program: The GREAT Scavenger Hunt! Youth aged 3 to 18, along with their parents, worked together to find up to 50 household items in 10 minutes. Prizes were awarded to three families who found the most items and two families who took the most creative photos of their finds.

Builder Bonanza with BMO Harris Bank - USO Illinois and BMO Harris Bank have teamed up to host a virtual creative experience for children of active duty medical and medical support staff. Twenty-five Navy families who have a sailor working at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center were invited to participate.

BMO’s Veteran’s Advisory Council, an enterprise resource group that provides fellowship and support to BMO employees who are military veterans, partnered with USO Illinois to host USO Discovery Kids: Builder Bonanza, a virtual experience that brought together kids of military families for interactive LEGO building sessions. The event was intended to stimulate creativity during the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the fourth USO Discovery Kids: Builder Bonanza session hosted by USO Illinois and BMO.

The children built their very own space shuttle, which is fitting as Captain James A. Lovell – the namesake of the health care center – is a retired Naval Officer and NASA Astronaut known for his role in the Apollo 13 mission. LEGO master creative builder, Matt Pino, lead the program and helped the children build their creation.

Sports Career Q&A with the Chicago Bears - In partnership with the Chicago Bears military youth got the inside scoop on how a professional NFL team operates on and off the field! The session was led by Lauren Screeden, face of the Chicago Bears and a media warrior whose spouse is in the U.S. Marine Corps. Our teens/tweens learned from experts in the communications, public and media relations, game entertainment fields, and got a special surprise visit from former Chicago Bears’ player, Jason McKie!

“With hard work, determination and focus – you can obtain your goals.” – Jason McKie

For more information on our virtual programs visit

Thank you to BMO Harris Bank, the Chicago Bears, and all our program sponsors for being the force behind the forces.

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