For U.S. troops serving in desert locales such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Bahrain, it’s beginning to look — and smell — a lot like Christmas and the holidays.
Hundreds of fresh-cut Christmas trees, along with thousands of holiday letters, menorahs, decorations and gifts, will find their way to these service men and women courtesy of DHL Express. This marks the 13th year that DHL Express has teamed up with the New York community for DHL Operation Holiday Cheer, a program that helps make the holidays feel more like home for U.S. troops serving abroad.
“Operation Holiday Cheer is a chance for DHL to show our gratitude to our troops in a big way during this country’s most important holiday season,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S. “It is an important tradition for all of us in DHL — the chance to work with community partners and deploy our global shipping network — and one we look forward to every year.”
Operation Holiday Cheer launches at 10 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, when DHL Express ships out the trees, letters, menorahs, gifts and decorations the company has packed from Long Island-based Dees’ Nursery.
From Dees’, the trees and trimmings will proceed via official police motorcade to the DHL Gateway facility at JFK International Airport, where they will fly to the DHL Americas Hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG). There they will be loaded onto a DHL 777 aircraft that travels nonstop to the Middle East.
Local businesses and community organizations generously donated the holiday trees and gifts. Special Santa shout-outs go to Dees’ Nursery; Adelis International Security; Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon; and Proctor-Hopson Post 1896 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), including VFW members and its Ladies Auxiliary from across New York State.
DHL Operation Holiday Cheer began in 2004, when the mother of a soldier who was stationed in Iraq asked Dees’ Nursery if she could buy a Christmas tree and send it to him. The nursery wanted to donate the tree but needed help shipping it overseas. Dees’ owner, Tom Di Dominica Sr., mentioned his dilemma to local businessman Jim Adelis, whose son also was stationed in Iraq.
Adelis then reached out to DHL Express and the community, and DHL Operation Holiday Cheer was born. In that first year, DHL sent 135 trees to our troops, along with lights, decorations, menorahs and holiday cards.
From that single tree in 2004, DHL Operation Holiday Cheer has since shipped thousands of trees that Dees’ Christmas tree farm in Maine has provided, along with thousands of ornaments, decorations, gifts and menorahs.