Hugh McQuaid Photo
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.

Hugh McQuaid Photo
“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