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LISTENERS SHOW TROOPS HOW MUCH THEY CARE.

Byline: Fred Shuster Staff Writer

In a show of support for the men, women and families of the U.S. armed forces, local oldies radio KRTH-FM (101.1) and all-news KNX-AM (1070) today kicked off a 36-hour radiothon to raise money for the Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX.

The third annual event, running until 6 p.m. Saturday, features studio appearances by celebrities, civic leaders and military personnel as well as call-ins from the public. The goal of the radiothon, spearheaded by KRTH afternoon personality Gary Bryan, is to support volunteer and operational programs at the USO Center, which serves as a recreation and service area for U.S. troops and their families on the move to and from duty stations worldwide.

The center serves more than 30,000 troops annually and has been increasingly active due to the continuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The facility is the first taste of home for many soldiers who return from battle, some with injuries.

``The atmosphere varies according to who's there at the time,'' Bryan said. ``The other night, there were 20 families coming back from leave about to fly to Okinawa, where they're based. And if the center wasn't there, they'd be sitting on hard benches. This way, they had free food, a nap room, a computer room, a place to take a shower.''

The Bob Hope Hollywood USO at LAX is a nonprofit organization that receives no government funding and is dependent on private contributions, which are tax-deductible. A team of more than 115 volunteers operates the center 18 hours each day. More than $470,000 was raised during the first two radiothons, enabling the facility to expand from 1,351 square feet of temporary office space to 3,600 square feet on the flight arrivals level at Los Angeles International Airport.

``Sometimes, you've got 350 young guys who've just graduated from Camp Pendleton, and for many it's their first time on an airplane,'' said Bryan, who grew up in a Navy family and moved throughout the country. ``So they have a friendly face and food and a comfortable place to hang out. Morale is so important. They have to realize everyone back home is behind them.''

Bryan said when the radiothon first started three years ago, the USO was ``about the size of a double-wide mobile home. Now we've tripled the space.''

Asked for his financial goals for this year's on-air fundraiser, Bryan said,``I hope we get a dollar more than we got last year.''

Listeners of the two stations can make secure credit-card donations online at www.kearth101.com, or by sending checks made out to Bob Hope USO to P.O. Box 1776, Hollywood, Calif. 90078. Donations can also be made by calling (800) 876-8454 during radiothon hours.

Fred Shuster, (818) 713-3676

fred.shuster(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 13, 2005
Words:473
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