The U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, with help from the American Red Cross, is looking for South Jersey families who want to open their home to a Coast Guard recruit doing basic training during the holiday season.

For more than 35 years, Operation Fireside has provided recruits from the Training with a place to call home on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. The recruits, who are away from home during the Coast Guard’s eight-week basic training, are matched by the Red Cross and the Training Center with local families who are willing to open their homes to recruits during the holidays.

“Every year, volunteers from the local community provide safe homes and warm food to recruits that are separated from their families for the holidays,” said Capt. Kathy Felger, commanding officer of the Training Center. “More than 90 local families will come to the training center and take more than 355 recruits home and give them a warm holiday meal, a break from the rigors of recruit training, and introducing them to the respect and affection the American public has for its service members.”

All prospective host families must live within 50 miles or within a 60 minute drive of the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May.

To learn more, contact the Red Cross Operation Fireside Program Coordinators at (609) 562-3483 or email at Host families will be added on a first-come, first-served basis.


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