CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Approximately 800 trees were delivered to Pendleton for the annual Trees for Troops giveaway Dec. 6.
Trees for Troops is a program that collects and delivers Christmas trees to service members and their families at 60 military bases in the U.S. and overseas.
This event is a great way to spread the spirit of Christmas while simultaneously giving back to service members, said Dino Richardson, the general sales manager for Marine Corps Community Services.
"Like many organizations and individuals in America, they appreciate the sacrifices that military families make," said Richardson. "The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation has found a way to show their appreciation to those who wear the uniform through this simple."
During this year's event, 600 trees were delivered to the Paige Fieldhouse parking lot and 200 distributed to the San Onofre Transition Readiness and Career Center.
"This is the first Christmas my husband has been home with us," said Tiana Higgins, a military spouse who was the first to choose a free tree during the event after winning the front-of-the-line, "Golden Ticket."
Guests began lining up even earlier than last year in order to receive a ticket voucher, with some arriving four hours prior to the event, causing a line of bitterly cold but determined recipients, said Devin Leal, the special event coordinator for MCCS.
Once the event began, the trees were distributed to the families on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition to the tree distribution, the event featured complimentary activities including: face painting, holiday crafts and an obstacle course.
Since 2005, the Trees for Troops program has delivered more than 122,000 free trees to military families and aspires to increase that total by an additional 17,000 this year, according to the Trees for Troops website.