MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- As soon as they came – they left.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation gave more than 800 free Christmas trees to service members and their families as part of the Trees for Troops program in front of the Defense Commissary Agency Commissary here Dec 11.
“This is a really great program, and it’ll be a huge help for the troops whose families are left behind from deployment. I really appreciate this kind gesture of these organizations,” said Staff Sgt. Cecil Pettis, electronics technician, 2nd Electronics Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
For the second consecutive year, the program will deliver trees donated by tree growers, retailers nationwide and ‘regular people’ trying to help out, according to Steve Drake, a member of the CSF.
During this holiday season, the program is expected to collect and deliver more than 11,000 trees from 27 states to be distributed to military families across the United States, as well as to service members serving overseas, said Drake.
“Our military and their families have been providing a real service to our country,” said Beth Walterscheidt, president of the National Christmas Tree Association and a Christmas tree farmer from Elgin, Texas, in a press release. “And, as Christmas tree farmers, we want them to be able to experience a traditional Christmas with a real tree.”
Lat year Trees for Troops with the help of the FedEx Corporation delivered more than 4,300 Christmas Trees to five U.S. military bases, as well as an overseas shipment to the Middle East all free of charge, according to a CSF press release.
“Trees for Troops was a huge success,” said Christmas SPIRIT Foundation chairman Nigel Manley, a Christmas Tree grower in Bethlehem, N.H. “It really resonated with our industry and the military.”
This year’s program kicked off on Nov. 14, with international shipments leaving from Ohio and Indiana and going to soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and the 5th Fleet in the Gulf, according to a CSF press release.
The sense of community struck home to one Springfield, Mass. native, Cpl. Harry Dejesus, a military policeman with Military Police Company, Headquarters and Support Battalion here, who received one of two trees from the towns of Groton and Dunstable Massachusetts.
Included with the tree was a card signed by some of the citizens of those towns.
“I feel great knowing that this beautiful tree came from home, and that the people of Groton and Dunstable took the time and effort to sign this card just to show their support,” said Dejesus.
Helping off load four 28-foot trucks full of trees to reload awaiting cars and trucks were Marines from the Single Marine Program and nine FedEx volunteers from the Wilmington FedEx freight delivery office.
“We see these Marines everyday and some of our employees are married to Marines and family on base. This is a great opportunity for us to give back something to our service members,” said Jim Mowrer, manager Wilmington FedEx freight delivery office.
For more information about the ‘Trees for Troops’ program or the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation logon to their Web site www.christmasspiritfoundation.org.