Lieutenant Governor Matos Meets with East Bay Students Making Holiday Cards for RI Service Members

Published on Friday, October 14, 2022

PORTSMOUTH, RI – Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos this morning visited Portsmouth High School and met with students from Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport to thank them for making holiday cards for Rhode Island military service members as part of the 20th Annual Operation Holiday Cheer.

“Of all the gifts we send to service members as part of Operation Holiday Cheer, we consistently hear that the students’ holiday cards are their favorite,” said Lieutenant Governor Matos. “The care that these students have put into their cards will be an important reminder to our troops of our wholehearted support for them.”

In total, students across all three districts—including, for the first time, Rogers High School—created hundreds of cards. The program was started in 2012 by Ron Rioux, USAF, and Linda Rioux of North Kingstown; in the first year, their grandson James rallied his fifth-grade classmates at Portsmouth Middle School to make 50 cards. In 2016, Linda began working with the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to include the cards in Operation Holiday Cheer. VFW Post 152 North Kingstown sponsors the purchase of cards and materials. In total, students have made over 8,000 cards over the last decade.

"We are so proud to honor our Veterans every day, but especially at Christmastime through our family's annual 'Christmas Cards for Veterans' event, which bring smiles, comfort, and a touch of home to our Veterans locally and those serving away from loved ones at Christmas,” said Linda Rioux. “We hope to continue this wonderful family tradition for many years to come."

“We’re so grateful for the work of Linda, her family, and all of the school staff that make this program possible,” continued Lieutenant Governor Matos.

The Lieutenant Governor offered gratitude to the following school staff who coordinated the program:

  • National Honor Society Advisor Amanda Turcotte, Instructional Systems Coach Erin Healey, and Social Studies teacher Joseph Cassady, Portsmouth High School 
  • LTC Chris Corbett, commandant of cadets, Rogers High School
  • Officer Wes Lemar, School Resource Officer, Portsmouth Middle School
  • Principal William Niemeyer and school counselor Sarah McCarty, Joseph Gaudet Middle School
  • School counselor Nelia Almeida, Hathaway Elementary School
  • VFW Post 152 North Kingstown Commander David Ainslie


Operation Holiday Cheer is an annual care package initiative for Rhode Island service members who will be stationed away from home during the holidays. It is organized by the Office of Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos in partnership with the Rhode Island National Guard Family Assistance Center, the United States Postal Service, the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Rhode Island Blue Star Moms, and Operation Stand Down Rhode Island. 

Contributions are collected from across the state and volunteers help assemble the packages for shipment during a single weekend. This year, an estimated 350 care packages will be assembled and shipped during the weekend of October 29-30.

The program relies on the generosity of individuals and corporate and community sponsors. Those interested in donating goods, financial contributions, or volunteer time can visit [] or call the office of Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos at (401) 222-2371.