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WASHINGTON - Kay Coles James, Director of the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM), announced today that OPM's annual toy drive for children of service members aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt exceeded all expectations.
This year, the third year OPM has held this drive, members of the OPM team raised nearly 1,300 toys for the children. With approximately 600 USS TR kids, this ensures that every child will receive at least one present from this year's efforts.
"The children of those who serve on the USS Theodore Roosevelt sacrifice a great deal when their mothers and fathers are gone fighting for our freedom and safety, and they deserve our thoughts and generosity," Director James said. "It is our honor to give this small gift to America's service men and women and their children. At this time of year, it is particularly heart-warming to know that each gift represents a child's smile and the warmth of knowing they are loved and not forgotten."
At the kick-off ceremony of the drive, USS Theodore Roosevelt Captain "Turk" Green said, "I want to thank you, the people of OPM, for your magnanimous support of the men and women of the USS Theodore Roosevelt." He continued, "Just 10 months after returning from Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), USS TR was tasked once again to head overseas, this time in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Just like in OEF, the men and women of OPM opened up their hearts and their pocket books to show their support for the sailors aboard USS TR. The morale boost given to these sailors by your kind gestures is immeasurable."
The Office of Personnel Management, which is housed in the Theodore Roosevelt Federal Building, officially "adopted" the USS Theodore Roosevelt shortly after September 11, 2001, when the ship and crew were serving in the Middle East in the war on terrorism. The commonality of the aircraft carrier's name and the agency name created what James calls "a natural bond between our two organizations and it has proven extremely valuable."
When we adopted the crew and their families, it wasn't just for a few days, weeks or months. The OPM staff and I are in this for the long haul. Every day the crew members put on those uniforms they are prepared to go into harm's way, and that's something we all must remember," James added. "Our hope is simply that the OPM family will make this a special holiday season for some of the children and their parents."
In addition to the hundreds of OPM employees who donated toys, local stores and a local Boy Scout troop donated a number of toys to the annual effort. Jennie Edmonds, a 15 year-old Girl Scout, donated 37 cases of Girl Scout cookies through her father, Tom Edmonds, of the Blue Star Vietnam Veteran's Helicopter Association. Jennie has been a driving force behind the effort to provide the cookies to the troops, including those in Afghanistan, and to veterans' hospitals in the area.
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