HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut service members and their families will receive financial relief this holiday season with the start of the 21st annual Operation ELF, Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and the Connecticut National Guard announced on Monday.
According to the lieutenant governor's office, the program was established in 2001 to support military families with loved ones who are deployed, preparing to deploy in 6 months, or have recently returned from deployment.
"I'm so proud to be a part of the 21st Annual Operation ELF, an initiative that supports military families while their loved ones are deployed," said Bysiewicz. "While these brave men and women may not be home for the holidays, it is our honor to give back and support the unsung heroes of military service, their families."
The lieutenant governor's office said that approximately 150 Connecticut National Guard Airmen are deployed to operations around the globe, with large groups in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East.
Nearly 70 soldiers of 142nd Medical Company returned from Poland, 15 soldiers from the 1109th Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group returned from Kuewait, and more than 60 aviation soldiers are actively being deployed to the Middle East, said the lieutenant governor's office.
Bysiewicz continued, "I want to thank our Connecticut National Guard Soldiers and Airmen for their service and dedication to our country, and hope that Operation ELF can provide a beacon of hope to their loved ones during the holiday season."
The program raises money for families through gift card donations and has awarded $47,000 of need-based grants to members and $14,000 in scholarships. Toys, fuel oil, snow removal and home maintenance services are also in need, the lieutenant governor's office said.
"Our soldiers and airmen make great sacrifices when they deploy overseas and so do their familes," said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon. "ELF is a great way we can give back to our military families with a shared sense of purpose and community when the holidays and Christmas season can feel daunting when someone is deployed far away."
Evon continued, "I thank our Soldiers and Airmen for their sacrifices, but equally I thank our families who make it all possible by keeping the homefront going."
Within Operation ELF is the Adopt-a-Family program, which also provides financial support by offering individuals or businesses the chance to "adopt" a military family. Those who adopt can fund or purchase items of need anonymously, and are provided a summary of the family's demographics and holiday wish list.
Donations are accepted until Dec. 12. For more information on Operation ELF or Adopt-a-Family, people can call (800) 858-2677, or visit the Operation ELF and the Connecticut National Guard Facebook pages at facebook.com/connecticutoperationelf and facebook.com/connecticutnationalguard.
Gift cards can be mailed to this address:
Connecticut Military Department
Office of Family Programs
360 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06105
For financial donations, the lieutenant governor's office is requesting that all checks are made payable to the Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Incorporated, and to annotate "Operation ELF in the memo line. Contributions can be made here or mailed to this address:
Connecticut National Guard Foundation, Inc.
360 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06105
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