Shelton residents help deliver $1.4 million to wounded troops

Buzz Ayles, Doug Newell, Jessica Leonetti, Rocky Lester, Connie Lester, Jean Jacullo, and Al Meadows assemble in front of building 10 of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital before visiting wounded troops earlier this year.

Buzz Ayles, Doug Newell, Jessica Leonetti, Rocky Lester, Connie Lester, Jean Jacullo, and Al Meadows assemble in front of building 10 of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital before visiting wounded troops earlier this year.

Twenty-four Shelton residents have participated in two-day, monthly/bi-monthly visits to the wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Hospital in Bethesda, MD for Operation Gift Cards for our wounded troops.

At least one Shelton resident has participated in 158 of the 160 visits during the past 13 years of the program. They have help deliver $1.4 million  in Post Exchange (department store) gift cards and corporate donations to the wounded troops and their families.

The volunteers are: Chris Ackley, John Alberghini, Fred Benham, Walt Bills, Jim Bunn, Angel Cadena, Mike Clavorino, Mary Ellen Cortillini, Lauren Cust, Frank DeAngelo, Tom Evans, Dennis Guerricci, Ken Hagen, Hank Kormornick, Jodi LoDolce, Chet Luba, Al Meadows, Nancy Meadows, Richard Norko, April Paschos, Dennis Salzer, Bernice Scott, Mark Scott, and Frank Veno.

The all-volunteer program has 75 organizations or individuals who have become co-sponsors to the program by purchasing either $1,000 or $500 of Post Exchange gift cards (in $25 amounts) and in doing so, they have the opportunity to send one representative to hand deliver their donation to the wounded troops (at the person’s own expense, which enables each organization or individual to deliver 100% of their donation to the wounded troops). Smaller donations, of any amount, are collected until the amount reached $1,000, then the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 13 will send a wounded warrior/disabled veteran to deliver the $1,000 in gift cards. Operation Gift Cards has received 33 awards/special recognition, including: Six national, 19 statewide, four military, and four regional/local awards. The majority of the awards were presented by four of the largest national veterans organizations.

The mission of Operation Gift Cards is make monthly/bimonthly visits to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Hospital with 6 objectives:

  • To personally thank the Walter Reed patients for their service to our nation and for their sacrifice for freedom.
  • To present all visited patients between 3 and 4  “Thank You” kits, each from a different organization, which collectively contain between $75.00 and $100.00 in Post Exchange gift cards.
  • To inform the patients about who to contact concerning benefits available to them when they return to their home state.
  • To provide a means for veterans’ organizations and individuals to donate items from the “Wish List” of various support groups at Walter Reed like the Red Cross and the Fisher House.
  • To provide the opportunity for local wounded and disabled veterans to participate in a visit to Walter Reed as part of their healing process.
  • Operation Gift Cards also coordinates the participation of Walter Reed patients and ex-patients in Connecticut events like the Branford’s First Congregational Church’s Take A Vet Fishing Program, the Stamford Halloween Yacht Club’s Hooks For Heroes Program, and Kathy Granfield’s Veteran Angler Charters.

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