The USO Puget Sound Area helps hundreds of thousands of people each year, and the organization received its due recognition Thursday.
The organization – which runs only with the hard work of more than 250 volunteers – received a five-star standards of excellence rating from the parent USO.
The rating is based on a review of the organization’s operations, services, volunteer program and community outreach.
"This award represents the gold standard for non-profit organizations and I am extremely proud of our staff and volunteers who work with such dedication, making this achievement possible," Tom Jaffa, the USO Puget Sound Area board chairman, said in a release.
The USO Puget Sound Area served 386,017 members of the military in 2008; volunteers worked 26,344 hours. It operates centers at Sea-Tac Airport and McChord Air Force Base and a "mobile canteen".
During the winter storms last month that stranded thousands at Sea-Tac, the USO managed to keep its lounge staffed around the clock and fed more than 250 service members and their families.
USO Puget Sound Area also helped operate a Toys for Tots drive, sponsored children of fallen service members on a free trip to Disneyland, distributed holiday meals for more than 600 families and awarded $2,500 in grants.
(Photo: USO volunteers distribute care packages to Fort Lewis soldiers preparing for deployment.)