FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 14, 2019) -- More than 300 free Christmas trees were available to military families at Fort Sill's 12th Annual Trees for Troops giveaway Dec. 14-15, at a post Recycle Center warehouse.

The trees were donated by tree growers to the Christmas Spirit Foundation, and delivered by FedEx to numerous military installations nationwide, said Chris Smith, Fort Sill Recycle Center program manager.

"This is a really neat program, and we see families come back each year because this is part of their holiday tradition," Smith said. It was the 15th year that the foundation and FedEx have partnered during the holiday season.

There was no preregistration; it was first-come, first-served. Active-duty families began lining up at 6 a.m. for the 7:30 a.m. opening of the warehouse in Bldg. 3321, Naylor Road, Smith said. The giveaway ended at 5 p.m.

"It's sort of like Black Friday shopping," she said.

Although there was an initial, civilized rush for trees, only once have all the trees been taken on the first day (Saturday). If trees remain on Sunday, then veterans and DA civilians can also take trees.

"The intent is to find homes for all the trees before Christmas," Smith said.

Organizations, such as Boy Scouts, and church groups, as well as individuals and families also purchased the trees from the growers and donated them to the Christmas Spirit Foundation. Many families and groups attached a holiday note offering season's greetings, and gratitude for the military families' service.

Inside the warehouse guests could enjoy cookies; and pears (donated by a military unit); and hot chocolate and coffee. There were also racks of free winter coats, and evening gowns, say, to attend the Saint Barbara's Ball. The clothing had been donated throughout the year in the center's textile bin, Smith said.

Several volunteers and Recycle Center staff ran the event, Smith said. They wrapped trees in nylon mesh, and helped families carry them to vehicles.

"The wrapping helps keep the tree together, so if they put it in their car it won't get full of pine needles," Smith said. "If they tie them on top of the cars, the wrap stops the tree from flopping around and breaking limbs."

The tree giveaway continued Dec. 15, from noon to 5 p.m.