U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens hosts 4th Annual Trees for Soldiers
By Jaz Levario
U.S.A.G. Fort Devens Public Affairs
December 13, 2021
Devens, Massachusetts – U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens hosted their 4th annual Trees for Soldiers event on December 3. Volunteers from Operation Service, representatives from the Boston Bruins Foundation and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) were attending to help hand out free trees to military members, retirees, veterans, and their families.
Around 9 a.m., volunteers from Operation Service showed up to help the organization's founder Joe Firmani unload 100 trees. Operation Service is a local nonprofit dedicated to giving back to all service members past and present. Volunteers worked hard all day to set up the tree farm, help service members select a tree and do a little tree trimming to cut the tree to the perfect size. Even Blades, the mascot from Boston Bruins, lent a hand… (paw?).
"This started as a small idea with 20 trees back in 2010," said Joe Firmani, "my wife and I just wanted a way to give back."
The Trees for Soldiers event has grown drastically over the years, with several distribution events and over 800 trees donated each year. Operation Service has partnered with the Gardener's Spot in Leominster, Massachusetts, for the last 11 years to provide free Christmas trees to service members, retirees, veterans, and their families. This year Operation Service was able to bring over 100 trees to donate for the Trees for Soldiers event at Fort Devens.
For many people having a live tree for the holidays is a family tradition, and for the men and women stationed so far from family, this lifts their spirits. Tree distribution at the event went well, and 100 military families past and present were able to take home some holiday joy.
There was a great show of support from the local community; State Representatives Danillo Sena and Mike Kushmerek and Fitchburg Mayor Stephen Dinatale stopped by the event. They joined in the festivities and spoke with several of the service members at the event.
The Trees for Soldiers event is one of the few events a year where Fort Devens invites the public on the installation, and community ties can be strengthened. To close out the Trees for Soldiers event Fort Devens held its first annual tree lighting ceremony. Santa even stopped by with the help of the Devens Fire Department.
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