Kelly Abbruzzese and Valerie Laurito stood in the Johnston Town Hall lobby Tuesday morning, smiling as they looked at the overflow collection of non-perishable food and toiletry items that have flowed in during the past two weeks.
They were each holding a gift card and sample of a farmer’s market voucher that their boss – Mayor Joseph Polisena –donated to help their ongoing efforts to re-stock the food and toiletry shelf at Operation Stand Down Rhode Island, located at 1010 Hartford Ave. in Johnston.
The two women – who are also well known for their extraordinary efforts during the holiday season, when Johnston Town Hall employees adopt a needy family and make Christmas merry for children with toys, clothing and food – were thrilled with Polisena’s most recent act of caring and sharing.
“The mayor has graciously donated 20 gift cards to Price Rite worth $25 each,” said Abbruzzese, who works in the Finance Department. “These cards will go to residents at Operation Stand Down.”
“The mayor has also donated 20 vouchers worth $15 each that will also be given to OSDRI residents,” Laurito said. “Whenever we have a drive for people in need, the mayor always steps forward just as he has done at Christmas.”
The work isn’t done yet, though. Abbruzzese and Laurito announced, after meeting with Jessica Miller, that OSDRI is still in desperate need of non-perishable foods and items like body wash and shampoo, just to name a few of the needs.
Thus, they announced that, “we here at Town Hall along with the Fire and Police departments … will be making a drop off to Operation Stand Down on Monday, and we’re asking all Johnston residents to please get all donations in.”
While Abbruzzese and Laurito issued a town-wide thank you to the many Johnston residents who have brought items to Town Hall in recent weeks, they are hoping that by Monday there will be more food and toiletry items when they travel up Hartford Avenue to make the donation.
The list of food needed to re-stock the OSDRI shelves includes cereal, juice, canned meat, dry or canned soup, canned fruit, oatmeal, rice, applesauce, jelly/jam, canned/instant potatoes, macaroni and cheese, canned dinners, snack items, instant noodles and tomato sauce.
The toiletry list includes shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, mouthwash, floss, razors, shaving gel, bar soap, Q-tips and sunscreen.
Johnston Town Hall is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
As Polisena said after making yet another important donation: “This drive is extremely important for our veterans. So please – OSDRI needs all those items we quite often take for granted. Let’s show our veterans how much we really care about their well being.”