Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and the state’s National Guard on Friday launched Operation ELF, an annual effort to help ease the financial burden of deployed troops’ families by seeking donations and unwrapped holiday gifts.
The goal of Operation Embracing Lonely Families is to aid the families of deployed Connecticut troops and those preparing to leave or have only recently returned. More than 70 members of the state’s National Guard are currently deployed.
Wyman spoke about the campaign at a press conference in the state Emergency Operations Center, which on Friday included a Christmas tree and a number of inflatable holiday decorations.
“There is nothing like the faces of the children when they see their gifts. So I’m asking all people to please join me in donating to Operation ELF this year because this is so important for our soldiers, the men and women that have been serving us. It’s our way of saying thank you,” she said.
In addition to new, unwrapped gifts for children of all ages, residents are encouraged to donate gift cards to grocery stores, department stores, gas stations, and pharmacies. Donors can also write checks to Connecticut National Guard Foundation.
People and businesses can choose to participate in Operation ELF’s anonymous “Adopt-A-Family” program designed to help military families in extreme financial need. Under the program, the name of the family in need will not be revealed to donors.
“The Adopt-A-Family program seeks to provide basic human needs for these service members and families. We are not looking to provide big screen TVs and XBoxes. We’re looking to help them with winter coats, mittens, boots, things for their children. Oil to heat their homes,” said Kim Hoffman, director of the Service Members and Family Support Center.
Hoffman said the Operation ELF campaign helps troops and their families beyond the holiday season. Donations allow her organization to support military families throughout the year, she said.
Residents can donate to the campaign beginning Monday, Oct. 21. The deadline for donations is Dec. 9. Donors can call 1-800-858-2677 for more information or drop off donations at any of the following state military facilities between 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Armed Forces Reserve Center 103rd Airlift Wing
37 Smith Street 100 Nicholson Road
Middletown, CT 06457 East Granby, CT 06026
Camp Niantic Readiness Center 103rd Air Control Squadron
38 Smith Street 206 Boston Post Road
Niantic, CT 06357 Orange, CT 06447
Army Aviation Support Facility William A. O’Neill Armory
Bradley International Airport 360 Broad Street
Route 75 Hartford, CT 06105
Windsor Locks, CT 06096
Waterbury Armory New London Armory
64 Field Street 249 Bayonet Street
Waterbury, CT 06702 New London, CT 06320
Stratford Armory Norwich Armory
63 Armory Road 38 Stott Avenue
Stratford, CT 06497 Norwich, CT 06360