For some, it can be a bit challenging to get in the holiday spirit in Redding, Calif., because the area typically has warm winter temperatures. But this year, residents were treated to a Dec. 6 snowstorm, which offered the Shasta-Trinity National Forest a wintery-white backdrop for its annual Operation Christmas Tree event.
Working in partnership with Shasta County Youth and Families Foster Care, OneSAFE Place (a women’s refuge), and the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center, the forest invited 62 local, disadvantaged youth on Dec. 7 to kick off their holiday season on the forest.
About 40 volunteers from the U.S. Forest Service and multiple partners, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and Shasta College, braved the snow to help make the event a big success and bring some cheer to the children’s holiday season.
Volunteers cooked lunch in Dutch ovens and helped with arts and crafts as they guided small groups of children through the day’s activities. Children made ornaments for the Christmas trees they received. The trees were cut off the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and provided for the event at no cost. Volunteers led the children on a tour of the smokejumper base. The children caught candy that was thrown to them by smokejumpers, who jumped from a training tower. To wrap up the day’s festivities, as with most Christmas holiday events, Santa Claus came to town complete with presents, which were provided by Toys for Tots.
“We understand that most of the children who attend this event have seen far more than their fair share of hardship and that the Christmas trees they take home with them might be the only holiday decorations they have,” said Andrea Capps, interpretive specialist and event coordinator for the forest. “This event takes weeks to plan and certainly a lot of energy, but creating an experience like this for these children is a reward that can’t be measured. It is an honor for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest to be the host.”
The Shasta-Trinity National Forest has hosted Operation Christmas Tree since 2004.