FORT DEVENS (CBS) — Operation Service is giving away Christmas trees to say thank you to active duty military and veterans. Volunteers gave out more than 100 trees at Fort Devens Friday.
“These guys are our heroes. They are the true volunteers in our eyes,” said Joe Firmani, one of the founders of Operation Service.READ MORE: Zachary Richardson Identified As Man Killed By Officers After 'Repeatedly Ramming' Leicester Police Station
Firmani said the program started nine years ago with only 20 trees, but will give away over 600 this year to veterans, soldiers and their families.
“They step up and they’re protecting the freedoms for strangers,” Firmani said. “So what can we do? We give a little bit back by giving them a tree.”
“We love the support. We always appreciate it. I think it’s a great cause,” said Army Corporal Israel Rivera.
“It really just shows us how appreciated we are,” said Staff Sargent Emerald Wagenhals.READ MORE: Pfizer COVID-19 Shot Expanded To US Children As Young As 12
Vietnam veteran Norman Beaudoin has volunteered with the group since the beginning.
“When I came out of the service we were vilified. We weren’t praised, so this kind of helps heal that wound,” Beaudoin said.
A steady stream of soldiers and their families came to pick up the perfect tree Friday.
“It helps soldiers really celebrate the holidays,” said Lt. Col. Lindsey Halter, a Fort Devens commander. “I think it really shows the community wants to support them and that mans a lot to them.”
“It means the world. My wife and I were gonna go out and buy a tree this weekend, and it’ll be nice to bring this home and surprise her,” said Petty Officer Chris Hall of the U.S. Navy.MORE NEWS: Should I Be Worried About Maskless People If I’m High-Risk? Dr. Mallika Answers COVID-19 Questions
The tree giveaway is also supported by the Bruins Foundation.