OSDRI, town work together to ensure happy Thanksgiving for vets

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A casual conversation between Lauren Garzone and Linda Folcarelli resulted in what Operation Stand Down Rhode Island Executive Director Erik Wallin said “will allow us to provide each of our residences in Johnston the chance to enjoy a more bountiful Thanksgiving.”

Garzone, who is the Johnston Town Council District 2 representative-elect, has long been a staunch supporter of veteran’s organizations in memory of her late father, who served in World War II.

Moreover, OSDRI is located in her district and she values the “wonderful work” the nonprofit provides for veterans in need. “As councilwoman-elect, I wanted to make a donation for Thanksgiving,” she said.

Folcarelli, who recently won reelection unopposed in District 1, is no stranger to veteran’s affairs. She serves as state commander of the Disabled American Veterans Auxiliary, while her sister Donna is the 3rd District National Executive Committeewoman for the DAV unit.

“Linda and Donna are always there when it comes to helping our valued veterans,” Garzone offered. “They enjoy giving their time and money to help veterans, especially those in need.”

So last Friday afternoon, Garzone, Folcarelli and District 3 Councilman Joseph Polisena Jr. made their way to 1010 Hartford Ave. and held a special ceremony that included the three elected officials presenting Wallin with gift cards they personally purchased at Price Rite and Stop & Shop so OSDRI residents could have a happy Thanksgiving.

Garzone noted that her district and Polisena Jr.’s connect, so they share basic needs of all Johnston residents offered.

“We donated the gift cards because we care about our veterans and because of COVID we felt we had to do something … so we donated gift cards,” Garzone noted. “We encourage others to make donations especially during the holiday season.”

“Operation Stand Down plays a vital role in the stabilization of homeless and at-risk veterans,” Polisena said. “The town is proud of the work they do. It’s also important that these veterans are not forgotten by the community – those who they protected – upon their return. We’re all eternally grateful for the sacrifices these men and women have made to keep our country safe.”

Perhaps that’s why Wallin, as well as other OSDRI officials like Tyrone Smith, the director of employment and housing, told the Town Council members: “OSDRI is thankful for the generous support at both this time and throughout the year that we receive from the mayor and council. The elected officials and public servants in Johnston always go the extra mile for veterans. It is one of the reasons we are so proud to call this town OSDRI’s home.”

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