NewsLocal News


Operation Christmas Tree giveaway spreads holiday cheer to local veterans

Posted at 6:43 AM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 06:44:23-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The holiday spirit was felt across the Big Bend on Saturday night.

Some veterans who might have gone without a tree this year now will not have to.

They were able to get those trees all thanks to the American Legion Post 13.

It's part of an annual tradition to give back to those who fought to protect our freedoms.

Something as simple as putting up a Christmas tree is a common routine during this time of year.

But for some it may be much more than that.

For military veterans in the Big Bend community events like "Operation Christmas Tree" helps veterans know that they are not forgotten.

"Definitely events like this for me especially...because I'm such an introverted type of person...I like to stay at home," said Brandon Baker, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran. "These events help me get out to meet other network and to socialize and it just definitely brings that overall camaraderie back that a lot of veterans get when they're out of the military in general."

Baker served four years in the United States Marine Corps as a food service specialist.

He spent his years in Japan and California making sure that all of the Marines were fed.

Baker says finding life purpose after serving can be hard.

"You have a scheduled routine...when you're in the military. Once you get lose your sense of self...especially for me in my case. It's just definitely finding your purpose in life...regrouping who you are," said Baker.

Thanks to events like Operation Christmas Tree all military veterans are able to hang ornaments this year..and decorate for the season.

Keith Planner one of the coordinators of the event who served in the United States Army for 20 years, knew four years ago that he wanted to find a way to help veterans in need.

He says that this event never gets old.

"Every year you see the can see the heartfelt thanks those things are consistent. But every hear a little bit of a different story from people and how much you've impacted them with this small program that we do," said Keith Planner, Operation Christmas Tree Coordinator.

One small impact continues to go a long way for those who served our country.

This was the third year this event has been in Tallahassee.

Planner says he hopes this event grows to give more than trees during the holidays in the near future.