WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Marines and their families lined up for miles at Camp Lejeune early Wednesday morning, all looking for one thing. "It's the Christmas spirit. You can't have Christmas without a tree," says Lance Corporal Lewis Garcia. And there were plenty of trees to go around.
The Christmas Spirit Foundation and FED EX teamed up with The Single Marine Program to donate more than 800 live trees to be given to military families. They say it's the least they could do. Deputy Operations Officer Yolanda Mayo says "This is one way for the community to give back to the Marines who give so much year round. The Marines, the sailors, and their families."
The sponsoring organizations say the goal is to decrease stress for troops this holiday season by providing Christmas trees. LCpl. Garcia and his wife Kourtnie arrived at 6:30 a.m. to make sure they wouldn't be left out. Garcia says "We need a tree and what better way to get it than on base, for free?"
Distributing the trees was a seamlessly operated mission, with many troops helping to load trees into numerous vehicles. Corporal Robert Jackson is celebrating this Christmas in the United States, which is far from where he was last year, Afghanistan. He says his time there taught him the meaning of the season which is why he decided to volunteer. "Being there, in Afghanistan, with my friends in the Marines showed me how much I really enjoy Christmas and how much the Christmas spirit is in me, so I've got a lot of holiday spirit to give which is why I'm here," says Jackson.
Mayo says the Christmas spirit moved quickly. All 869 trees were given to troops in under an hour and a half. As for the feeling of folks on their way out, Kourtnie Garcia says she's grateful for the holiday gift.