1st SOFSS provides 600+ Christmas trees to Airmen and families

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victor J. Caputo
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Hundreds of Air Commandos and their families were provided with a free Christmas tree after the 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron Airman and Family Readiness Center and Marketing flights partnered with Trees for Troops.


Trees for Troops is an organization that has donated more than 176,000 trees since 2005 to military families, and Team Hurlburt received almost 700 trees.


The A&FRC handed out vouchers for the trees during the annual Christmas tree lighting at the air park on Dec. 1, prioritizing families of deployed Air Commandos and junior Airmen before opening the lot to the general base populace.


“Our goal was initially to support our deployed families when we realized that it offered so much more that we could support all of families,” said Debby Lunblad, chief of the A&FRC with the 1st SOFSS.


Two tractor trailers loaded with the trees were delivered to base, and the holiday spirit of generosity quickly rubbed off on nearby Airmen.


“We had several volunteers from the A&FRC helping unload the trees, but we were able to enlist the help of an Airman Leadership School class, and people started pulling over and offering their assistance, too,” said Vas Bora, the director of marketing in the 1st SOFSS. “We’re lucky we had so much help, we didn’t realize how much labor it was going to take to get everything situated.”


More than 30 total volunteers helped pass the trees out in as organized a manner as one would expect from the Air Force: families would drive up, present their voucher, drive into either the car lane or truck lane, and the volunteers would tie their requested tree to the top of their vehicle without the driver ever leaving their seat.


The trees were worth an estimated $30,000. Many were donated by residents of Gobles, Michigan, a small town near Lake Michigan. Each tree came with a card containing a handwritten note or drawing, many from young elementary school students.


“This is a big deal for those kids,” said William Warren, a community readiness specialist in the A&FRC. “They don’t see the military every day like we do, they don’t have the military in their backyard. It’s a chance for them to give back.”


Volunteers worked an additional several hours on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 2 handing out as many trees as possible before opening the remaining stock to anyone willing to come pick it up themselves, resulting in nearly every single tree going home to a member of Team Hurlburt.


Only four Air Forces bases participated in Trees for Troops in 2016, with Hurlburt joining this year. The resounding success of the drive this year, especially considering how much of the process had to be figured out from scratch, means that Air Commandos and their families should keep their eyes peeled for an even bigger movement in 2018, said Lundblad.