Cape May County News

Operation Fireside: Red Cross looking for additional Cape May families to host Coast Guard recruits

Cape May, NJ, September 27, 2019 – The American Red Cross is accepting applications from people in the Cape May area who wish to become a host family for Operation Fireside.

Operation Fireside provides recruits from the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May with a place to call home on Thanksgiving and/or 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 Coast Guard with local families who are willing to open their homes to recruits during the holidays.

“Operation Fireside was a nice mental break,” said former Coast Guard member Kathleen Dillon, recalling her participation with Operation Fireside while she was a recruit. “It helped me feel part of the community and gave me the motivation to finish basic training.”

For more than 35 years, Cape May area families and local organizations have welcomed the recruits, with many continuing the tradition year after year. This year, the opportunity is open to additional families wishing to participate. All prospective host families must live within 50 miles or within a 60-minute drive (whichever comes first) of the Coast Guard Training Center at One Munro Avenue in Cape May.

Those who meet the criteria and wish to apply or learn more can contact the Red Cross Operation Fireside Program Coordinators by email at opfiresidenj@redcross.org or by calling 609-562-3483. Host families will be added this year on a first-come, first-served basis.

“We’re honored to work alongside the Coast Guard with Operation Fireside all these years,” said Terri Illes, director, Service to the Armed Forces, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Approximately 400 recruits are placed each holiday with more than 100 generous Cape May area families who warmly welcome the recruits with a holiday meal and the comforts of home.”

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

About the American Red Cross in New Jersey:
The American Red Cross provides programs and services to a population of 8.8 million in New Jersey. The Red Cross trains and mobilizes more than 4,500 volunteers who support the delivery of services throughout the state. In New Jersey last year, the Red Cross responded to more than 900 local disasters, mostly home fires, helping more than 2,250 displaced families; collected more than 94,500 units of blood through blood drives and Red Cross Blood Donation Centers; provided more than 5,114 military family case services with emergency messages, helping families find assistance and/or get counseling and referrals; and trained nearly 110,250 individuals with life-saving skills in preparedness, CPR, AED use, first aid and aquatics. For more information, please visit redcross.org/NJ and follow us on Twitter @NJRedCross.org.
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