FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 30, 2018) -- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Fort Drum, as community members gathered outside the Commons Nov. 29 for the annual Tree and Menorah Lighting Ceremony.

Attendees were treated to hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and cookies, while the 10th Mountain Division Band provided a holiday soundtrack for the event and a choir of children from the Fort Drum Girl Scouts and Service Unit 512 sang carols.

Brig. Gen. Gregory K. Anderson, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commanding general for support, welcomed everyone to the event.

"For me, the holidays represent family, community and the spirit between families and communities as they give and take care of each another," he said. "That's why I love being here. We have a great community out here tonight to celebrate the holidays."

Anderson said that there is more that is good in the world than bad, and this is the season to reflect on all that is right. With that thought in mind, he thanked Dick and Mary Ellen Darling, owners of Darling's Tree Farm in Clifton Springs, for their continued support of the Trees for Troops program.

This year, roughly 600 farm-fresh Christmas trees will be distributed to Fort Drum families through the Christmas Spirit Foundation and Trees for Troops.

Through this charitable organization, more than 17,000 trees were delivered last year to 70 military bases in the U.S, and hundreds to installations overseas. One Fort Drum family received the 200,000th tree during the event in 2017.

The Darlings said that they have assisted with the tree shipment to Fort Drum for the past 10 years.

"We have about 450 tree farms across the country who participate in this program, and a lot of organizations and individuals who contribute trees or donations, so we don't do this alone," he said. "Personally, we contributed about 200 trees this year."

Darling said that they enjoy coming on post to watch Soldiers and their families receive the free trees.

"It's like a mini-Christmas for us," he said. "I think the Soldiers appreciate what we do and it's our way, as Christmas tree growers, to give back."