NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It may not be a sleigh full of toys, but it’s close.
An airplane loaded with Christmas trees and other special somethings addressed to our servicemen and women stationed overseas got a big sendoff Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport.READ MORE: Post-Christmas Return Blitz At Area Malls Reveals Possible COVID-Influenced Trend: Some Things Just Don't Fit
As CBS2s Vanessa Murdock reported, “Trees for Troops” brings fresh cut Christmas trees wrapped, stacked and ready for delivery. Carefully packed lights and decorations to trim the trees got loaded next at Dees’ Nursery in Oceanside.
The final destination of all this Christmas cheer? Troops stationed overseas in Kuwait and Bahrain.
“They provide our freedom,” said Joe DiDominica.
DiDominica said Trees for Troops started in 2004.
“A mom came into the store back 18 years ago and asked my dad if we could send a tree to her son who had just gotten deployed,” he said.
With the help of DHL, they made it happen then and the partnership still goes strong to this day.
Cathy O’Reilly, manager of global aviation at DHL Express, says the trees bring a little piece of home to those protecting our freedom.
“We start to get the emails back and pictures of them with their trees. It’s something that you’ll carry for a lifetime, and you just want to keep on doing it and doing it,” O’Reilly said.
Col. Thomas Sullivan received a tree in 2006 when stationed in Iraq.READ MORE: Travel Woes Worsen, Around 175 Flights Canceled At JFK, LaGuardia, Newark Airports Sunday
“Things are pretty austere, and we don’t expect much as far as living conditions go. So to get these trees and these care packages that first year was pretty amazing, knowing we were on the minds of so many people in this community,” Sullivan said.
Community, exactly the secret ingredient to success. A brigade of Gold Star families, Port Authority police officers, veterans, the Chaminade High School ice hockey team, and more helped move trees from truck to JFK.
The prick of a needle couldn’t stop them from sending the spirit of the season to our troops.
“What this event shows is that one simple conversation, one little act of kindness, can turn into 18 years of amazingness,” one person said.
Symbols of the season shipped to our servicemen and women, but perhaps the most sentimental of items getting sent, letters from little ones.
“I think you are selfless because instead of spending the holidays with your family, you choose to protect our country,” one letter read.
“All our wishes for a happy, healthy holiday season,” read another.
May these trees and trimmings make your Christmas away from home a little more merry and bright.
This year marks more than 10,000 trees shipped by Trees for Troops.MORE NEWS: Citymeals On Wheels Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Trees packed Monday travel to Cincinnati on Monday night, arrive in Bahrain on Tuesday morning, and will be delivered to troops Wednesday.