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Monday, June 17, 2024

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CG Recruits to Spend Holidays with Local Families

Cape May County families volunteer to host Coast Guard recruits for Christmas as part of Operation Fireside

By Karen Knight

COURT HOUSE – Operation Fireside 2022 will return in the traditional manner used for the 39 years before the pandemic.  
The American Red Cross New Jersey Region and the U.S. Coast Guard met Sept. 19 and agreed local families could once again host recruits on Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the pandemic, the recruits stayed at Training Center Cape May (TRACEN) both days, and holiday dinners were held there. 
The Red Cross now is seeking local families who want to host recruits for one or both days, who live within a radius of 60 minutes and 50 miles from the Training Center. Residents should email opfiresidenj@redcross.org if interested. 
The USCG Security officer will run a background check on all the names on the Host Family List. The list will also contain the name, address, phone number and driver’s license number of the family member who will pick up the recruits   Host families should give the Red Cross the name of the person who will physically pick up the recruits. Host families will not be allowed to leave with recruits unless that person is present at pickup.
Recruits will be picked up no earlier than 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving and 12 noon on Christmas and are required to be back to TRACEN Cape May no earlier than 4 p.m. and no later than 8 p.m. on both days. Host families will be allowed on base 15 minutes before the recruit pickup time to match the arrival time of recruit companies. 
At least two recruits will go with every family. If a recruit has family living within the established driving radius, the family may request the recruit by name. The Training Division will handle these case-by-case requests and keep the family informed.
Otherwise, host requests for specific types of recruits (e.g., race, religion or gender) will not be honored.
Host organizations, who take large groups of recruits, and backup families, who have agreed to show up just in case there are any “leftover” recruits, pick up last. 
Families should notify the Red Cross of any special circumstances, such as if hosts are related to one of the recruits, only vegan food will be served, or there will be a special-needs family member present, so recruits can be properly selected and briefed.
Recruits will have their own phones for the first time since they arrived in Cape May. They will likely be anxious to talk/text with their family, but they should not ignore their host families because of their phones.
Host families should not give the recruits any gifts or food to take back to base, as it will just be confiscated when the recruits return. They also should not attend public events with the recruits, such as sporting or entertainment events. 

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