Northrop Grumman People Help USO Set Record for Care Packages

Northrop Grumman People Help USO Set Record for Care Packages

The assembly line at the Advanced Manufacturing Center in El Segundo, Calif., was host to a different kind of assembly on Saturday, March 15, 2008, when hundreds of employees came together to stuff USO care packages for military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The employees came from Northrop Grumman sites all over Southern California, including the Corporate office, and the Integrated Systems, Space Technology, Mission Systems, Electronic Systems, and Information Technology sectors. The ingredients for the care packages came from the United Service Organizations (USO), specifically chosen as items the troops need and want while they are deployed away from home.

“This event has set a new standard for us,” said Ron Wise, director.

Operation USO Care Package Program (OUCP), while a second shift of volunteers reluctantly ended their efforts about seven hours after a brass gong started the operation. “I thought it was a challenge to put together 15,000 care packages in one event. Our final count here was 16,200 and I could not get people to stop. I am just blown away by the enthusiasm and motivation. It says so much about a company that would turn over their resources for this. It speaks volumes about the kind of company Northrop Grumman is.”

Wise said his group hosts about 40-45 care package stuffing parties each year and the count is usually 10-11,000 packages per event. Volunteers who came to “work” on their weekend day became an energetic line loading packaged body wipes, sun screen, soft drink mixes, granola snacks, peanuts, playing cards, lens cleaner, a pre-paid phone card, disposable razor, chewing gum, lip balm, and more into two-gallon-size plastic bags. A final ingredient on March 15 was a greeting card from the employees of Northrop Grumman extending thanks and respect to the service man or woman who will receive the package.

Among the volunteers was sector president Gary Ervin. He applauded the USO for its mission of boosting morale for the men and women in uniform and being a link between the troops and the American people. “Northrop Grumman has supported the care package program since it started in 2003,” he said, adding that donations from employees to the USO have totaled more than $300,000 since that time.

In a plant where employees design and build the center aft fuselage of the F/A-18 Super Hornet with pride and precision, Ervin said “we always deliver quality products. Today it’s a different kind of product.”

He also reminded the volunteers that some of their Northrop Grumman colleagues have been or are deployed in the global war on terrorism because they are members of the National Guard or military reservists.

A guest for the event was Mike Teilmann, executive director of the nearby Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX and a military veteran. “I have had a lot of years in the USO and the military,” he told the volunteers. “I see how our troops react when they get these care packages and they can feel the love, care and respect that goes into them.”

Teilmann brought with him several Hollywood-connected supporters of the USO. Actresses Connie Stevens, Kate Linder and Elaine Dupont; and entertainer Nancy Sinatra took part in the program and spent time on the care package assembly line.

One of the most energetic of the Northrop Grumman volunteers was Lena Lyon of the Mission Systems sector who was part of the advance force on Friday, staying in a hotel in El Segundo so she could also work Saturday. “I do this because I think it’s important,” she said. “I work at USO dinners in San Diego. We see young families come in with small children and one of the parents is deployed overseas. They give so much and they appreciate whatever we do for them.”

The event organizer who gave more hours than anyone to the project was Keith Burton from Community Relations. He said, “With the spirit of volunteerism we have in this company, I knew we could easily assemble the biggest number ever for the USO Care Package Program.”

The care packages were stored at the El Segundo site for a few days before the U.S. Post Office picked them up for shipment to Afghanistan, Iraq and a few USO centers in California.