VIDEO: Red Cross Teams Up with Coast Guard

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CAPE MAY - For 34 years the Red Cross has teamed up with the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May to make “Operation Fireside” a success.
Close to 100 families from around South Jersey will open their doors and ovens to over 300 Coast Guard recruits this holiday season for “Operation Fireside.”
“It’s hard for a recruit to be away for the holidays," said Carol Cohen, Executive Director, Southern Shore Chapter of Red Cross. "So for them to have a home to go to and some normalcy of what a holiday looks like, means a lot to them, means a lot of the families, and it means a lot to the Red Cross to be able to play a part in connecting community and recruits.”
During Friday’s Meet and Greet some families raised their hands to say they’ve been hosting recruits for over 20 years and for others like Lisa Murphy, it’s their first time hosting a recruit.
“My husband was a Marine, we know what it’s like when family is away, we know what it’s like when he was away,” said Lisa Murphy, First Year Host.
Murphy’s family hosted recruits when she was younger and now she wants to continue the tradition with her four kids.
“I don’t want them to want to leave," said Murphy. "I want them to be like, 'I don’t want to go.' I want them to stay and have fun. I want it to be fun for everybody, not just them but for my kids and I want my kids to learn about them and what they do and where they’re from. I just want it to be a learning experience for everyone.”
The relationship between recruit and host family doesn’t stop on December 26th.
“They get pictures of them each promotion, when they get married, a birth of a child, these are lasting memories and lasting connections," said Captain G. Todd Prestidge, USCG, Commanding Officer, Training Center Cape May.
The Captain stressed the importance of hosting a recruit who is away from home for the first time on a holiday, saying it’ll be the first time they’re thanked for their service.

SNJ Today is a Southern New Jersey news and information source based in Millville, New Jersey that is dedicated to providing current stories related specifically to South Jersey.