PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An annual tradition to make sure military members feel the love during the holiday season has returned for a 19th year.
Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos held an event Tuesday morning at the State House to kick off this year’s Operation Holiday Cheer.
“It’s important for us to remember the servicemen and women that are outside of Rhode Island, responding to the call of duty and answering that call,” Matos said. “All we want to do is send a reminder that we don’t forget about them, and we want to send a little piece of cheer, of home, to where they are.”
Gov. Dan McKee was also on hand for Tuesday’s event, along with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, R.I. National Guard Major General Christopher Callahan and Mary Grace Marceau of Rhode Island Blue Star Moms.
The yearly initiative, started by former Lt. Gov. Charles Fogarty, calls for volunteers and business leaders to send a piece of home to Rhode Island military personnel who are serving out of state or overseas. The care packages are filled with local favorites like Del’s Lemonade, coffee syrup and Dunkin’ coffee, as well as handwritten letters and cards.
“It’s so much more than a care package,” McKee said. “It’s a reminder of home and a reminder that someone is thinking of them. It’s a reminder that Rhode Island cares.”
To ensure all Rhode Island servicemembers are included, family members and friends are asked to provide their loved one’s name and address to Grace Sneesby at the lt. governor’s office by calling (401) 222-2731 or emailing email@example.com.
Additionally, the Rhode Island Blue Star Moms need specific items to fill the care packages, including snacks, candy and drink mixes.
Due to the pandemic, all funds raised will go toward the RI Military Family Relief Fund, which supports active Rhode Island servicemembers in all branches of the U.S. Military.