FORT DRUM, N.Y. (WWTI) — Many Fort Drum soldiers now have a much brighter home for the holidays.

On December 9, Fort Drum kicked off its annual Trees for Troops event to distribute free Christmas trees to soldiers and their families.

The event, hosted by Fort Drum Morale Welfare and Recreation, took place near the Main Post Chapel and attracted crowds of military families.

“We must have had more than one hundred people get trees already this morning,” Fort Drum MWR Director Sharon Addison shared barely an hour after the event started. “Many trees have personal messages on them, and there are some with names on them from people who have donated them.”

PFC Eric Washington and his wife, Neketa Washington, were among some of the first families to pick out a tree. They explained that this will help them celebrate their first Christmas as a married couple.

“I never really had a real Christmas tree,” PFC Washington explained. “So it’s my first time having a real Christmas tree.

“It gives us a chance to stay inside and do something together,” Neketa Washington added. “So I think that will be really exciting, like picking what colors we want, looking for lights together. It really brings our little family together.”

Event organizers also said the goal of Trees for Troops is to hopefully alleviate some financial pressures that come with purchasing a Christmas tree, especially with rising costs and for new Fort Drum families.

“Majority of the troops don’t have family up here,” Addison shared. “We don’t know what their income is and this is a way we can provide a free tree.”

In total, over 500 trees will be distributed over two days to soldiers of all ranks. The trees are first come, first serve and recipients must provide their own tie-down materials.

A full schedule of the distribution is included below:

  • E-1 through E-5 on December 9 from 9 a.m. to noon;
  • E-6 and above on December 9 from noon to 4 p.m.; and
  • All Department of Defense ID Cardholders on December 10 from 9 a.m. until gone.