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CT volunteers meet VP Pence, get thanks for veterans gift card program

New Haven Register - 12/5/2019

Dec. 6--Members of Connecticut's Operation Gift Cards recently got a special thank you during their visit to the Walter Reed National Military Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

The five December representatives of the program met Vice President Mike Pence, according to Operation Gift Cards Chairman Al Meadows of Shelton. Pence individually thanked them for their service and continued support for the wounded troops there, according to Meadows, a veteran.

The volunteer Operation Gift Cards group has organized delivery of more than $1.6 million in Post Exchange gift cards and corporate donations to the wounded troops at the Walter Reed during more than 14 years -- or 177 monthly/bimonthly -- visits.

December Operation Gift Cards participants were: Meadows; Buzz Ayles of Morris; Sherri Vogt of Brooklyn; Francene Duncan of Milford and Amy Gianninoto of Oxford.

"The program has 75 organizations or individuals who have become co-sponsors to the program by purchasing $1,000 of Post Exchange gift cards (in $25 amounts) and in doing so, they qualify for the opportunity to send one representative to hand deliver their donation to the wounded troops," Meadows said in a release. "Seventy-three of the co-sponsoring organizations are from Connecticut. Each representative is responsible for his or her own expenses for the two-day trip, that enables 100 (percent) of the donation of the co-sponsor to be delivered to the wounded troops."

Meadows noted that 342 representatives of the 75 co-sponsors have participated in the two-day visit to Walter Reed. Smaller donations, of any amount, are collected until the amount reached $1,000, then Operation Gift Cards will send a wounded warrior/disabled veteran to deliver the $1,000 in gift cards, which is therapeutic to the veteran, Meadows said.

The program's mission is: to personally thank Walter Reed patients for their service to the nation and sacrifice for freedom; to present all visited patients with a $25 Post Exchange gift card from each of three of the co-sponsoring organizations that participate in any one of the monthly visits; to inform patients about whom they should contact concerning benefits available to them when they return to their home state; 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; provide opportunity for local wounded and disabled veterans to participate in a visit to Walter Reed as part of their healing process.

The program also coordinates participation of Walter Reed patients and alumni in local events, such as the Branford First Congregational Church's Take A Vet Fishing Program, the StamfordHalloween Yacht Club's Hooks For Heroes Program, and Kathy Granfield'sVeteran Angler Charters, according to Meadows.


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