Local Companies on Hilton Head Island that Specialize in Hilton Head Vacation Rentals Assist Operation R&R to Give Returning Soldiers a Much Needed Vacation

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With the support of some local businesses that specialize in Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, Operation R&R (Rest & Relaxation), which originated on Hilton Head Island, gives returning soldiers and their families a much needed vacation and some time to reconnect. Roughly 800 soldiers have participated in the program since its inception in 2008.

Operation Rest & Relaxation on Hilton Head Island

Operation R&R

The most rewarding part was visiting with the troops. It made me so proud and thankful for what they do for our country.

The military men and women returning home from active duty deserve a big “Thank you” for their service to our country. On Hilton Head Island, one way a group of people and some local businesses that specialize in Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, as well as others are showing their appreciation is by proudly participating in Operation R&R (Rest and Relaxation).
The program was conceived and started in 2008 by Dr. Grant Evans of Columbus, Ohio, who also frequents his second home on Hilton Head Island. While waiting for a flight in the airport he said, “…I caught myself staring, watching these guys and gals, the big hugs, the tears. I thought that it is absolutely unbelievable that these people are going over there and we’re just going on with our daily lives.” Dr. Evans wanted to help and thought it would be a great idea to invite returning soldiers and their families to come to Hilton Head Island, use his short term rental property for free, and enable these families to relax and reconnect after being apart for so long.

From that modest idea sprang Operation R&R. In the four years of the program’s existence, around 800 returning soldiers and their families have been able to enjoy a trip to Hilton Head Island for very little, to no cost to the families. While here they can enjoy the beach, golf, tennis, boating, and many other activities together. (The program was recently made available to include families of the fallen). There are over 300 homes, villas, and condominiums being donated to the program by property owners working through their rental management companies. Those 14 companies are Beach Properties of Hilton Head, Beachside Getaway Vacation Rentals, Hilton Head Accommodations, Hilton Head Island Beach & Tennis, Hilton Head Rentals Golf, Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, Island Getaway, Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort, ResortQuest, Resort Rentals of Hilton Head Island, Sea Pines Resort, Seashore Vacations, The Owners Club at Hilton Head, The Vacation Company, and Trident Rentals. Other participating local businesses include 65 local restaurants, 26 recreation and entertainment businesses, 10 spas and health clubs, 1 grocery store, 1 hotel, and several other companies that donate goods and services to the program.

In addition to Dr. Evans serving as President of the non-profit organization, there is an 11 person board that oversees the operation, including Debra Keenan who is the front desk manager at Hilton Head Vacation Rentals. Debra and the board volunteers spend countless hours overseeing the program by helping to coordinate the families’ accommodations, preparing the welcome packages, and scheduling the “Greeter Families” (local volunteers that welcome each soldier’s family upon arrival and make certain they get to their Hilton Head Island home without difficulty).

LTC (retired) Brian Gale is a long-time volunteer and coordinates participation from the army side. Recently Colonel Gale escorted the board members and a number of vendors that participate in the program to Fort Stewart, Georgia where many of the returning soldiers are based. They were treated to a tour of the base which included a close-up look at an Apache Helicopter and Striker troop carrier, plus some target practice with simulated live ammunition. Mrs. Keenan said, “It was all interesting and fun, but the most rewarding part was visiting with the troops. They were so gracious and polite to us the entire time. It made me so proud and thankful for what they do for our country. I’m grateful to be able to help some of them through Operation R&R.”

Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, Ms. Keenan and the rest of their staff have been a strong supporter of Operation R&R and their efforts from the very beginning. In addition to their involvement with Operation R&R, the soldiers and their families, Hilton Head Vacation Rentals has been assisting visitors for nearly 35 years to help them create vacation memories that will last a lifetime by offering one of the largest selections of vacation homes and villas on Hilton Head Island. For more information about Operation R&R, Hilton Head Vacation Rentals, or to make a donation, visit http://www.operationrestandrelax.org or contact Mike Wood, General Manager or Debra Keenan, Front Desk Manager with Hilton Head Vacation Rentals at 800-232-2463 (800-BEACH-ME). Your donations are a great way to thank the men and women who are risking their lives for our security.

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