Devens, Mass. -- The holiday spirit, and a few snowflakes, were in the air as community members, civic leaders, and non-profit organizations converged on Devens Reserve Forces Training Area (Devens RFTA) for the ninth annual Trees for Soldiers Dec. 6.
Volunteers from Operation Service, along with representatives from the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), were in attendance to help hand out free trees to Servicemembers, both past and present.
Joe Firmani, a founder of Operation Service, believed that showing support for military families during the holidays is critical.
"These guys are our heroes. They are the true volunteers in our eyes," said Firmani. "They step up and they're protecting the freedoms for strangers. So what can we do? We give a little bit back by giving them a tree."
"It helps Soldiers really celebrate the holidays," said Lt. Col. Lindsey Halter, garrison commander, Devens RFTA. "I think it really shows that the community wants to support them and that means a lot to them."
The volunteers handed out nearly 100 trees to Servicemembers, Retirees, and Veterans.
Firmani and his wife Kathy began Operation Service by giving out 20 trees in 2010. The program has grown each year, so much so that by 2019 Operation Service expects to donate nearly 600 trees.
Operation Service partners with the Gardener's Spot in Leominster, Mass.
Representing the Bruins Foundation was executive director Bob Sweeney and Bruins mascot "Blades."
Devens RFTA is the major Army Reserve presence in New England. Devens RFTA provides operational, training, and logistics resources to tenant, transient training, and stationed units and area customers.