WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Hundreds of volunteers packed into Rhode Island National Guard’s Armory this morning to assemble care packages for local troops deployed.
“Operation Holiday Cheer”, now in its 17th year, was started by then Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty.
“All volunteer, all donations, all with love, and boy, it makes a big difference,” Fogarty said.
Current Lt. Governor Daniel McKee is helping to keep the tradition going. Along with the Rhode Island National Guard, American Red Cross, the U.S. Postal Service, and other volunteers, they packed, taped, loaded and shipped nearly 400 care packages to Rhode Island troops stationed in other states and overseas.
“Everything the men and women that are serving are really going to appreciate once they open that box up wherever they might be during the holidays,” McKee said. “It costs $40, $50 every package to send, so we have to raise money. So you’re gonna need $20,000 on just the postage to make that happen.”
Dozens of businesses contribute everything from typical toiletry kits or necessities, to reminders of home, like Del’s Lemonade, or Autocrat Coffee Syrup. Local students also wrote Christmas cards.
“When we have a chance to bring a little bit of Rhode Island to those who are serving outside the state, especially overseas for the holidays, what can be better than that… to bring a smile to their face and let them know that what they’re doing is really worthwhile,” Fogarty said.
Each of the 375 packages also had a stocking stuffed from Rhode Island Blue Star Moms.