WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Those Rhode Islanders serving in the U.S. Armed Forces who will be overseas in December would surely be happy to see the latest efforts to bring them cheer, which kicked off Tuesday morning at the Rhode Island National Guard Armory in Warwick.
Rhode Island’s office of lieutenant governor has overseen the program, Operation Holiday Cheer, for the past 17 years, collecting items showing the flavor of Rhode Island and other items needed by troops in the field that may be hard to come by.
About 500 care packages a year are boxed up by volunteers and sent out to military members. The goodies include snacks, gift cards, batteries, and personal care items.
Launched in 2001 by Eyewitness News analyst, then-Lt. Gen. Reginald Centracchio of the R.I. National Guard, and then-Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, the operation assembles the packages in November, with support from the U.S. Postal Service, the American Red Cross, and the Office of Veterans Affairs, among other organizations.
“Operation Holiday Cheer brings Rhode Islanders together,” Lt. Gov. Dan McKee said at the launch event Tuesday morning. “From large companies to local Girl Scout troops, everyone has a role to play in spreading cheer to members of the military and our local veterans.”
Donations will be collected on Saturday, Nov. 16, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the National Guard Armory at 541 Airport Road. Then, on Sunday, Nov. 17, volunteers will assemble the packages.
If you know a service member who will be deployed this year and would like them to get on the list to receive a care package—or if you’d like to volunteer—contact Tabatha Dube at the Lt. Governor’s Office by calling (401) 222-2371.
Besides item donations (see below), monetary donations can be sent to the lieutenant governor’s office, with checks payable to the American Red Cross with the memo “OPERATION HOLIDAY CHEER” noted, addressed to Office of Lt. Governor McKee, c/o Tabatha Dube, 82 Smith St., Room 116, Providence, RI, 02903.
The troops’ wish list is posted at the Lieutenant Governor’s state website. It’s also reprinted below for reference:
- Batteries (AA and AAA only)
- Beef Jerky (no pork)
- Chewing Gum
- Feminine Products (packaging must be intact)
- Granola Bars
- Head Lamps
- Individual Moist Towelettes
- Individual Powdered Drink Mix
- Individual Tissues
- Peanut Butter (16oz, plastic jars)
- Playing Cards/Card Games
- Sunflower Seeds
- Trail Mix
- Travel Foot Powder
- Travel Hand Sanitizer
- Travel Hand/Body Lotion
- Travel Shampoo/Conditioner
- Travel Shower Gel
- Boxed games
- Bulk Items
- Canned foods
- Items over 16 oz.
- Religious Items
- Sports Equipment