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'Stuff the Van' charity drive seeks items for troops’ families

by Terrie Judge - December 4, 2006

A "Stuff the Van" collection for Operation E.L.F. charity drive to help families of deployed troops will take place during the week of Dec. 4.

"When the troops are activated, their civilian jobs are put on hold, and in some cases, they are lost," says Janet Freniere, an administrator at UConn's transportation services department, which is hosting the event.

"Families of troops need support from other Connecticut residents, especially during this time of year."

Almost 1,000 men and women in the Connecticut National Guard are on active duty overseas.

Operation E.L.F. (Embracing Lonely Families) was established in 2003 by then-Lt.-Gov. M. Jodi Rell as a gesture of support to military families separated during the holiday season due to deployment.

These families also potentially suffer tremendous financial hardship as a result of the troops' call to active duty.

Freniere says the department will be collecting new unwrapped toys, grocery gift cards, phone cards, fuel oil credits, money, and promises to provide services such as shoveling snow or delivering Christmas trees.

This is the fifth year that transportation services has participated in the charity drive.

A decorated van will be set up on Hillside Road and Fairfield Way, directly across from Gampel Pavilion on the following days:

  • Dec. 4, from 8 to 10 a.m.
  • Dec. 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Dec. 6, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. (before the men's basketball game)
  • Dec. 7, from 3 to 4 p.m.
  • Dec. 8, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Offices with many items to donate to can arrange to have them picked up by calling Freniere at 860-486-4804. For more information, go to the Operation E.L.F website.

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