They say there's no place like home for the holidays. That sentiment rings especially true for military families, both those reunited for the season and those celebrating from afar. Trees for Troops, a program founded by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, aims to bring holiday cheer to military families by providing free Christmas trees at 77 bases across the U.S.
Since starting 16 years ago, the nationwide operation has given away more than 260,000 Christmas trees to deserving military families. This year, they'll give 14,500 trees to families stationed at 77 bases across the country.
At the Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia Beach, Virginia, 150 families were given the opportunity to select their perfect Tannenbaum last weekend. The trees were cut down in Maine and sent to the Virginia base via FedEx.
Families arrived to the tree lot at scheduled times, and took their pick from a large selection of trees. Volunteers stood by to help with everything from sawing fresh cuts, to tying the trees up with twine and securing them to cars. And because a tree is just a tree until its properly trimmed, the program also provided bags of free handmade ornaments to adorn each family's new tree.
Karen Williams, who works with Fort Story Morale Welfare and Recreation and volunteered at this year's tree giveaway, told local news station WTKR News 3 that she loves seeing the impact the program makes for families.
"I think we were put on this planet to help one another," she said. "So, if I can make someone smile, if you can make someone smile—a soldier, a Marine, a sailor—it's all worth it."