WARWICK, R.I. – As part of the annual Operation Holiday Cheer initiative, Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee announced an ambitious goal to send over 500 care packages to service men and women who will be away from home this holiday season. Due to recent deployments of Rhode Island service members, McKee anticipates sending the highest number of packages in recent years.

McKee announced the goal alongside Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, Major 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 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. Contributions are collected from across the state, and dozens of volunteers help assemble the packages for shipment on a single weekend in November.

This year, 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 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Volunteers will assemble packages on Sunday, November 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., also at the Armory. To see the troops’ Wish List, make a monetary donation, or volunteer, visit www.ltgov.ri.gov/ohc.

“Operation Holiday Cheer brings our community together in a way that is difficult to describe until you have seen it firsthand,” said McKee. “Each year, I am honored to work alongside combat veterans, Blue Star Moms, Gold Star Moms, boy scouts, girl scouts, local businesses, school groups and so many others as we show support for our Rhode Island service members.”

During the conference, Sergeant Casey Dextradeur and Sergeant Ian Fink emphasized the importance of Operation Holiday Cheer by sharing their personal stories of receiving care packages through the program.

Operation Holiday Cheer 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.

This program relies entirely on the generosity of individuals and corporate and community sponsors. Among this year’s supporters are AAA Southern New England, AlphaGraphics, the American Red Cross, Amica Mutual Insurance Company, BankNewport, Banneker Industries, Bank of America, Blue Star Moms, City of Warwick, CVS Health, Dels Lemonade, Dunkin’ Donuts, Finlay Extracts & Ingredients, General Dynamics Electric Boat, Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England, Gold Star Moms, Hasbro, The Home Depot, Local 57 Operating Engineers, National Grid, Navigant Credit Union, The New England Patriots, Ocean State Job Lot, Stop & Shop, The Pawtucket Red Sox, Pilgrim Title Insurance Co., The Providence Journal, Rhode Island Resource Recovery, The U.S. Postal Service Providence Branch and Walmart.