The East Rockaway Fire Department recently took part in the 19th annual Trees for Troops event in remembrance of its founder and East Rockaway resident, Jim Adelis.
Chief Dominic Pignataro, members of the rescue squad, and East Rockaway Deputy Mayor Gordon Fox loaded trees in their trucks at Dee’s Nursery, a nursery with a full range of plants, trees, gardening needs, and floral services, in Oceanside on Dec. 5. From there, they escorted the trees to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The trees were then loaded on a DHL airplane to be sent to troops who are stationed internationally.
“This year, some of the trees will be sent to Djibouti,” Pignataro said. Other trees will be shipped to military bases in Iraq, Kuwait, and Bahrain.
This yearly tradition of sending trees to military personnel across the world started with Adelis in 2003.
Adelis, who passed away from Covid-19 in 2021, came up with the idea when a woman approached the owner of Dee’s nursery asking for a Christmas tree so she could ship it overseas.
“The owner of Dee’s said, ‘I don’t know how you’re going to do that, but I will give you the tree,’” Pignataro said. Pignataro mentioned that Adelis connected with the owner of Dee’s and because he worked with DHL, he was able to start this annual event where he would send trees to troops.
The event grew throughout the year with multiple organizations joining the East Rockaway Fire Department. Such organizations include the Oceanside Fire Department, the Nassau County Police Department, New York Police Department, and the Port Authority Police Department. All the organizations helped with loading the trucks and plane with trees.
“Everybody was represented there the other day and they’ve had a big hand in this event over the years,” Pignataro said about the several departments that participated in this year’s Trees for Troops.