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Lt. Governor McKee Kicks Off 14th Annual Operation Holiday Cheer

Care package initiative expected to serve over 350 troops who are away from home during the holidays

PROVIDENCE, R.I. This morning, Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. McKee launched the 14th Annual Operation Holiday Cheer accompanied by Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, Brigadier General Christopher P. Callahan of the Rhode Island National Guard and a host of corporate and community sponsors at the National Guard Armory in Warwick.

Operation Holiday Cheer is a seasonal initiative to ship several hundred care packages to service men and women who are away from home during the holidays. Many of the items they receive are special reminders of Rhode Island.

The event is organized by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in partnership with the Rhode Island National Guard's Family Assistance Center, the Office of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Postal Service Providence Branch and the Rhode Island chapter of the American Red Cross. Contributions are collected from across the state, and dozens of volunteers help assemble the packages for shipment.

"Operation Holiday Cheer is truly a team effort. It gives individuals, businesses and community groups in Rhode Island a chance to give back to the service men and women who do so much for us each and every day," Lt. Governor McKee said. "The holidays can be a difficult time to be away from home, and this initiative is designed to bring our troops some cheer, just like the name says."

During the kick-off, Captain Sean Fitzpatrick and Master Sergeant Dan Delayo shared their stories of receiving an Operation Holiday Cheer care package while serving overseas during the holiday seasons.

McKee announced donations of goods from the public will be accepted and sorted at the National Guard Armory at 541 Airport Road in Warwick on Saturday, November 19, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Volunteers will assemble packages on Sunday, November 20, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., also at the Armory. To see the troops' Wish List or to volunteer, visit www.ltgov.ri.gov/ohc.

To make a monetary donation, visit http://www.redcross.org/local/rhode-island/operation-holiday-cheer. Checks may be made payable and sent to the American Red Cross RI Chapter/Operation Holiday Cheer, 105 Gano Street, Providence, RI 02906.

The 2016 Operation Holiday Cheer campaign is continuing to collect names of service members to receive a special care package that contains reminders of Rhode Island. If you know a service member from Rhode Island who will be away from home for the holidays due to military service, please contact the Lieutenant Governor's Office at ltgov@ltgov.ri.gov. The program relies entirely on the generosity of individuals and corporate and community sponsors. Among this year's supporters are AAA Southern New England, AlphaGraphics, American Red Cross, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, Bank of America, Blue Star Moms, City of Warwick, CVS Health, Dunkin' Donuts, Electric Boat, Finlay Extracts & Ingredients, Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, Gold Star Moms, Hasbro, The Home Depot, Local 57 Operating Engineers, National Grid, The New England Patriots, Ocean State Job Lot, The Pawtucket Red Sox, The Providence Journal, Rhode Island Resource Recovery, The U.S. Postal Service Providence Branch and The Valley Breeze. Other supporters are expected to join the effort in the coming weeks.

Media Contact: Andrea Palagi | andrea.palagi@ltgov.ri.gov | 401 744-7925

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