LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, TEXAS –
Sharon Tarbell stands patiently in line as Christmas music plays from outdoor speakers. Her 4-year-old daughter is by her side. Her 2-year-old son and her friend's sleeping infant are securely fastened into a dual-seated stroller.
They wait to receive a free Christmas tree that will, hopefully, help bring happiness into their home this holiday season, in spite of the absence of a key member of their family - her Navy husband and Madison and Micah's dad, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Steven Tarbell.
Through Trees for Troops, a joint endeavor between Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx, Lackland AFB was one of nearly 30 military installations to receive free Christmas trees identified for distribution to military members and their families.
The FedEx truck delivered 100 trees to the Lackland Outdoor Recreation Center on Dec. 8, with another 145 scheduled for delivery Dec. 12.
In addition to saving her money on purchasing a tree, Staff Sgt. Kimberly Chabarria said the Trees for Troops program helps keep peace in the family.
"This saves me from having to load the kids up and find a place that sells trees, and everybody fighting over what kind of tree they want and what size they want. Now I get to take it home and just surprise them," said Sergeant Chabarria, whose husband, Tech. Sgt. Robert Chabarria is deployed with a joint task force.
Both sergeants are assigned to the 37th Comptroller Squadron.
According to Sandy Hillard, 37th Mission Support Group Community Support Flight chief, even though the trees were available to any military member assigned to Lackland AFB, half of the trees were distributed to deployed members' spouses, with most of those being hand-delivered by volunteers from across base.
"This is amazing. It's so nice to know that there's still somebody there even when the spouses are gone," said Mrs. Tarbell. "It's a good lesson also for the kids because it shows there are people there for you that may not be family, but they care anyway."