CAPE MAY, N.J. – More than 30 junior enlisted Coast Guardsmen and their families received free Christmas trees donated as part of Trees for Troops Thursday at 9 a.m.
The trees were distributed to lowest ranking members on the base, and many of those service members receiving trees just returned from deployment or had family members already deployed for Christmas.
“I’m grateful for this generosity, and it shows that people care about our military,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Ryan Browning, who just returned from a two-month deployment in the Windward Passage conducting illegal migrant interdiction operations aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous homeported here. “We take care of the American people, and they take care of us.”
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation coordinated the delivery of more than 18,000 Christmas trees to service members and their families all around the world this year through the Trees for Troops program. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May has been participating in Trees for Troops since 2009 and ensures the trees go to those service members and military families who need them most.
“When a mom or dad is gone for the Holidays because of their service, there is a huge void that is left behind,” said Capt. Bill Kelly, the commanding officer of Training Center Cape May. “The simple act of recognizing that sacrifice and showing support with a Christmas tree during that difficult time goes a long way.”
Tree farmers across the U.S. donate trees to the troops as part of the program, and according to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, more than 103,000 free, farm-grown Christmas trees have been provided to troops and military families in the United States and overseas through Trees for Troops since 2005. Training Center Cape May received its trees from the Cherry Grove Tree Farm in Rising Sun, Md.
“Trees for Troops is an outstanding opportunity for us to give back to our service members,” said Kay Montgomery of the Cherry Grove Tree Farm. “We hope to ease the burden of service for our men and women and their families just a little bit with a free tree on Christmas.”
Coast Guard Training Center Cape May is the Coast Guard’s only enlisted basic training facility and provides critical logistic, facility and administrative support services to seven operational Coast Guard units here that conduct critical Coast Guard missions locally and globally.
Coast Guard Cutter Vigorous is a 210-foot medium endurance cutter built for multi-week offshore patrols and conducts critical front-line Coast Guard missions including illegal migrant interdiction, counter narcotics, search and rescue, and national defense.