CHARLOTTE -- Thousands of service members from Fort Jackson are filling the Charlotte Douglas Airport as they make their way home for the holidays.

21-year-old William Washington knew he wanted to join the military, but starting his training at Fort Jackson was still a culture shock.

 “It was a big change. It was crazy,” he said.

Soldiers spend weeks doing training preparing physically and mentally for life in the military, but being away from family can take a toll.

On Monday, they got a chance to escape.

Helping get them home are hundreds of USO North Carolina Volunteers.

Volunteers passed out snacks and soldiers spent time with everyone from Santa to Sir Purr.

But the main goal these volunteers have is to thank these soldiers.

A helping hand to give soldiers a chance to temporarily escape the demands of the military and spend time with a family ​excited to see them.

These soldiers will travel all over the country. We heard some our going as far as Puerto Rico. They'll have two weeks off for a little time off before having to return back to Fort Jackson in January.