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WASHINGTON — Most troops in the Middle East can’t get home for the holidays, but can get a little closer thanks to the USO and a holiday donation by AT&T.

The company donated 15,000 calling cards this month for troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, to be distributed by the USO.

In addition, the latest USO tour again will be handing out the phone cards — good for about 20 minutes of phone time from the Middle East to the U.S. — to troops as part of their morale-boosting efforts, according to USO spokesman John Hanson.

The company’s holiday gift also included a $20,000 to fund additional events through the Freedom Calls program, which gives troops stationed overseas an opportunity to speak with their families via videoconferencing technology.

Sean Doles, spokesman for the company, said the grant will support events in New York; San Antonio and Lubbock, Texas; Peoria, Ill.; and San Diego.

Hanson said the majority of the newly donated cards will be included in care packages for troops about to deploy to the Middle East. The USO has been including the free calls in their handouts for several years now.

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