Christmas trees from NJ delivered to 100 National Guard members
BORDENTOWN — Several members of the New Jersey National Guard and their families have one less job to do this December.
The task of getting a Christmas tree has been handled by a joint initiative between the state and independent associations. Cut fresh at more than a dozen farms throughout the state, 100 trees have been donated to soldiers and airmen at four armories in New Jersey.
"We're building a tradition and hopefully we'll be able to do this for many years," said Brig. Gen. Steve Ferrari, the deputy adjutant general of the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, speaking at a special ceremony Wednesday at the Joint Military and Family Assistance Center.
Ten families were gifted a tree at the event.
"Money that I would've used towards buying a tree can now go towards something else, whether it be food, a gift for someone else, or to buy trimmings for the tree," said Sgt. Jeneen MacGray, of Hightstown.
"I have five children and a husband, so he'll be very happy he doesn't have to buy a tree this year," added Sgt. Latashia Brown, of Williamstown. "So I won't be cooking for Christmas; he'll be cooking for Christmas. It's a trade off."
Sgt. 1st Class Albert Veltri, a Toms River father of three, appeared to grab the biggest tree of the bunch.
"I'm going to put this on top of my Honda Civic and drive it home," he said. "I think it's a great gesture."
Beyond the state's military and agriculture departments, the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers Association assisted in the donation effort.
"New Jersey Christmas tree growers work hard all year tending to trees so that when Christmas season arrives, the culmination of that is bringing joy to a family with that perfect tree for their home," said Tim Dunne, the association's vice president. "We are happy to donate trees to New Jersey military families. It is a small gesture that we can do for those who help protect our freedom every day."
The trees were collected over a three-day period by the New Jersey Agriculture Society's Farmers Against Hunger trucks.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.