MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Service members and their families from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune were in their cars at Onslow Beach as early as 6:30 a.m. for free trees donated by Trees for Troops, Dec. 1.
The event, which didn’t kick off until nine in the morning, passed out more than 860 evergreen trees to service members and units throughout the base.
“We got more trees than we anticipated this year, but it’s a good thing,” said Yolanda Mayo, the deputy operations officer with Marine Corps Community Services. “Because they’re all going to be given away, it’s a great way to kick off the holiday spirit.”
The Trees for Troops is part of the Christmas Spirit Foundation program that donates evergreen trees not only to Marines but all branches of the military. The foundation has partnered with FedEx, which delivers all of the evergreen trees to military installations free of charge.
“The troops and their families deserve something for all the hard work they’ve done,” said Kiki Medeiros, a military spouse who received a tree. “Free trees help out a lot, especially when a service member is deployed and their family is back home alone.”
Trees for Troops first contacted Camp Lejeune nearly three years ago and since then the base has been a host for the program.
Mayo recalled their first event, which was held near the Marine Corps Exchange, and how it caused a lot of trouble with traffic. After learning from that event the program was moved to Onslow Beach.
Even with the new location the traffic to the tree handout was still jam-packed with vehicles, all hoping to take home a tree. The line stretched from the enlisted pavilion to the staff-noncommissioned officers’ pavilion and well beyond the Onslow Bridge.
From the first to the last tree, volunteers from 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and Marines from Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command worked hard to make the giving process as smooth as possible.
Vehicles would pull up and each tree was loaded into the vehicle or tied to the roof. Service members and their families left with varying trees, some short and stout, others with tall ones. Each one however, left with a warm smile and a thank you.
“Even though there’s less trees than there were last year, the amount of people coming for them has grown,” said Lance Cpl. Ethan Young, volunteer and artillery cannoneer with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “Although everyone who came won’t be able to get a tree, it’s good we can help them out as much as we can.”