New York, N.Y. – December 7, 2020: The traditional and festive holiday celebrations must continue this season -- as long as they’re done safely. That’s why DHL Express will once again deliver 500 fresh-cut Christmas trees, menorahs, gifts and other decorations, along with thousands of handwritten letters from school children, to U.S. servicemen and women stationed abroad. These holiday contributions will arrive to U.S. military in Afghanistan and Bahrain in time to help our service members recreate their traditional holiday experience. DHL has coordinated Operation Holiday Cheer in partnership with charitable organizations from the NYC-metropolitan area for 17 years.
“Our armed forces make sacrifices every day to protect our freedoms. Although it is always difficult to be separated from loved ones, this year may be especially hard on them. Through Operation Holiday Cheer, we hope DHL can lift their spirits and give them a touch of home this year,” said Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express U.S. “With Christmas trees in short supply, due to pandemic-related shutdowns at tree farms, we want to support local businesses while ensuring our brave servicemen and women abroad know they are not forgotten.”
From Long Island-based Dees’ Nursery, a police motorcade escorted the special convoy to the DHL Gateway facility at JFK International Airport, where the holiday decorations and letters were loaded aboard a DHL 767 jet. After a quick stop at the DHL Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) hub, the donated items were flown nonstop to the DHL Bahrain hub where they will be dispatched to U.S. military in the region.
In addition to the trees from Dees’ Nursery, other contributions of festive cheer were donated by generous community organizations, including Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon; Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski Memorial Fund; Proctor-Hopson Post 1896 Veterans of Foreign Wars; John McLaughlin VFW Post 8540; and other VFW chapters in NY State.
DHL Operation Holiday Cheer began in 2004 when the mother of an Iraq-based soldier asked Dees’ Nursery if she could send a Christmas tree to him. The nursery insisted on donating the tree but needed help with shipping. Dees’ owner, Tom Di Dominica Sr., mentioned his mission to businessman Jim Adelis, who then contacted DHL Express -- and it all began.
Since that single tree was shipped in 2004, DHL Operation Holiday Cheer has transported more than 11,500 trees from the Dees’ tree farm in Maine, providing holiday cheer to soldiers serving our country overseas.
Next year, DHL, Dees’ and our community partners look forward to resuming the traditional Holiday Cheer send-off event with an even larger community celebration, which will also pay tribute to Jim Adellis, a dear friend, community leader, and key event organizer who sadly passed away in early 2020.