CONNECTICUT NATIONAL GUARD
Governor Rell Announces Annual Operation ELF Kickoff –
With ‘Home for the Holidays’ Twist
Effort to Bring Troops Back to Connecticut for Holiday Break Will
Replace Annual Toy Drive as Private Organization Provides Toys
Governor M. Jodi Rell today marked the start of the state’s annual holiday drive to help support the families of Connecticut National Guard troops already deployed or preparing to deploy overseas. Governor Rell announced that this year the program known as “Operation ELF” – an acronym for Embracing Lonely Families – will include a special fund-raising effort to bring about 700 troops preparing for deployment at out-of-state bases home to Connecticut for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The special fund-raising effort, called “Operation Home for the Holidays,” is intended to raise $200,000 to hire a fleet of buses to bring Connecticut Army National Guard troops back to the state during a break in their training. The fledgling United Football League (UFL) – which is partnering with Northland AEG to hold an exhibition game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford this fall – has offered to “kick off” the fund drive with a donation of $25,000.
The fund-raising effort will replace the annual toy drive that is usually a part of Operation ELF. A private organization, called Operation Tribute, will partner with Operation ELF to ensure that children in military families get toys this holiday season.
“For most of us, the coming holidays are joyous opportunities to gather with family and friends, strengthening or rekindling old ties and making wonderful new memories,” Governor Rell said. “But this can also be a time of intense loneliness and longing when family members are missing – and that is especially true for the families of Connecticut’s citizen-soldiers.
“For the families of troops who are deployed or about to be deployed, the pain of a missing loved one is amplified by understandable anxiety,” the Governor said. “And sadly, this holiday season we will be seeing more of that loneliness and anxiety than ever, because by the time of the holidays this year we will have about 1,200 troops from Connecticut deployed or preparing to deploy – a record number.”
Among those troops will be about 700 members of two units – the 1st Battalion of the 102nd Infantry Regiment and the 250th Engineering Company. The members of those units will be at “mobilization stations” in Indiana and Wisconsin, respectively, where they will be completing preparations for deploying to Afghanistan.
Both units are slated to have winter holiday breaks – from December 23 through January 2 in the case of the 1/102nd and December 22-January 2 in the case of the 250th Engineers.
“That’s a nice break – but as you know, holiday travel is expensive, especially for families already facing a financial strain due to the deployment of a breadwinner,” Governor Rell said. “So this year, instead of collecting toys for the children of military families, we will be collecting contributions to pay for a fleet of buses. We will use those buses to ship our troops home and back to their training camps during their break – at no expense to their families. We call it ‘Operation Home for the Holidays.’”
Operation Tribute, an organization founded in Maine and offering services throughout out New England and New York, will provide new gifts, each with an approximate $50 value, to military children who register at their Web site, www.OperationTribute.com.
“We have another outstanding partner in the UFL, which has really given our fund-raising effort an inspiring start,” Governor Rell said. “Their donation of $25,000 is a huge leap forward for this effort – right from the beginning – and they have my deepest thanks.”
The $200,000 will cover the rental and round-trip expenses for 10 buses to and from Indiana and three buses to and from Wisconsin, the Governor said, as well as providing entertainment options such as movies and meals for troops who cannot make the trip home or have no family in Connecticut.
“Times are tight all over our state – families and employers are still struggling with the effects of this global economic crisis,” Governor Rell said. “Yet I also have seen, time and again, the way the people of our state open their hearts in times of need. And I believe they will respond, once again, with the generosity that makes this such a wonderful place to live.”
Donations for “Operation Home for the Holidays” should be sent to the Connecticut National Guard Foundation Inc. The Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, established in April 2003 to provide emergency financial assistance for Guard members and their families. All donations are fully tax-deductible.
Donations can be sent to:
Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Inc.
360 Broad Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06105-3706
Checks should be made payable to “CTNGFI.”
Credit card donations are also accepted. Please contact the Operation ELF Hot Line at 860-524-4924 or the Family Program Office at 1-800-858-2677 for a credit card donation form.
As in previous years, Operation ELF will also collect donations of a gift card to a local grocery or department store, gas station or pharmacy. These cards can be given to families so that they can choose what they need most. Cards of any denomination are most welcomed and appreciated.
Donations for the purchase of a gift card are also accepted. Check should be made payable to Family Program Special Projects and sent to the above address.
Once again, Operation ELF will also operate the Adopt-A-Family program, created to assist families who are suffering an extreme financial hardship as a result of their service member’s call to active duty. Individuals or businesses may “adopt” a family from this category and help them have a great holiday season.
The name of the family is never revealed to the adopting person or organization. Rather, a summary of the family’s demographics and wish list are provided. Gifts are delivered by that family’s case worker along with the name of the donor, if so desired. Donors interested in supporting a family in this category or anyone knowing of a military family that could benefit from adoption should contact the Operation E.L.F. Hot Line at 860-524-4924 or the Family Program Office at 1-800-858-2677.
On behalf of the Connecticut National Guard, we wish to express our gratitude for your support of our troops and their families. Your generous donations of toys, gift cards, services or cash are deeply appreciated as the global war on terrorism continues to affect all our lives.
Content Last Modified on 11/3/2009 8:13:51 AM