VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – An annual holiday program that provides service members with free Christmas trees is helping to make the season a little brighter.
“Trees for Troops” has been around for 15 years and has given out nearly 244,00 Christmas trees for service members in the United States and abroad.
Friday, those serving at Joint Base Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story got the chance to get one.
“For me, this is one of the few events where we’ve had a small gathering of personnel,” said Base Commander Captain Mike Witherspoon. “To me, it’s good to see this occurring today because we’ve been locked down and secure for so long. To see folks come together for an event such as this, it’s truly refreshing.”
Witherspoon says it’s the 13th year the installation has partnered with Trees for Troops and they were able to provide 245 trees for those on a first-come, first-served basis.
While troops are grateful they can get the trees each year, he believes this program means a lot more to families this year.
“We’ve been in lockdown for so long this year, for just an outing or something short in duration, which is about two hours this morning, I think it gives them an outlet. I think they can enjoy it with their entire family. Their kids can point out trees. I think it brings a sense of relief to their families,” he said.
For the Morantes, who are participating for the second time, getting a free tree helps ease the pain of not being able to see their family for the holidays.
“Our family is all back home in Hawaii so, it’s hard for us. We just had a baby so it’s harder with COVID-19 for our family to see the newborn. We’re just happy to be together for Christmas and the holidays,” said Donovan and Kylie Morante.
Witherspoon hopes that servicemembers and their families, like the Morantes, are able to sense the admiration of their service and sacrifice.
“Our service members don’t often have the opportunity to be home for the holidays. What’s most joyous to those servicemembers is they get to come out and get shown they are appreciated,” he said.
To learn more about Trees for Troops and its sponsors, click here.
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