Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman announced late last week that three state business and the Connecticut State Police have all made major donations to the state’s Operation ELF program, and she called for more corporate and private donations before the Monday deadline.
Operation ELF is run during the holidays but provides support for National Guard families year-round. The toys and gifts collected will be distributed on Saturday, Dec. 17, at the state Armory in Hartford during a holiday party expected to be attended by about 200 families of soldiers who are currently or have been recently deployed.
About 600 Connecticut soldiers and airmen will soon be deployed to the Afghanistan region, joining the approximately 100 that were deployed in November.
Among the gifts received from businesses, Z-Medica of Wallingford is donating $10,000 worth of gifts and grocery-store gift cards, and employees of Crowley Automotive Group of Bristol and Total Communications of East Hartford are each donating thousands of dollars worth of toys.
Connecticut State Police at Troop F in Westbrook held a luncheon at the troop barracks last week that raised about $3,000, and troopers also collected three truckloads of toys.
“The generosity of these businesses and the state police will go a long way toward making this a better holiday season for these families whose loved ones have sacrificed so much for our country and our state,” Wyman said. “I know it will give peace of mind to our military men and women overseas to know that their families are being supported back home.
Donations of toys may be made until Monday at the state Armories in Hartford, Waterbury, New London, Norwich and Stratford. More information is available by calling the Operation ELF hotline at (800) 858-2677.
“These military men and women risk their lives so that we can be safe, comfortable and secure with our families,” said Ken Crowley, President of Crowley Automotive. “The very least we can do is to help make this an enjoyable holiday season for them and their families.”
Z-Medica CEO Brian Herrman said his company decided to join the effort this year “to ensure that no child of any deployed soldier has to make the double sacrifice of a missing parent and an empty holiday season.”
“Our contributions can never approach the value of the contribution that these brave men and women are making on our behalf,” Herrman said.
Rhonda Tassie, human resources director at Total Communications, said the company’s association with ELF and other holiday support programs also is motivated by the sacrifice of the Guard members and their families.
“Every one of these soldiers is someone’s spouse, parent, child or sibling,” Tassie said. “Because these soldiers sacrifice so much for all of us, we want to be sure their children don’t miss out on the excitement and joy of the holiday season.”
Lt. Gov. Wyman also acknowledged the contributions of the Connecticut Chili Society, the Patriot Guard Riders and the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, who will provide services at the Dec. 17 holiday party.