The Naval Air Station Jax (NAS Jax) Navy Exchange (NEX) in partnership with the Greater Jacksonville Area USO held it's 12th annual lighting of the "Giving Tree" Dec. 1.
The tree, located in the NEX main store, offers a way for NEX patrons to help a military child, who is a little less fortunate, have something special for Christmas.
NEX General Manager Marsha Brooks welcomed store patrons and children from the NAS Jax Child Development Center who participated in the event by singing Christmas carols.
NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Sean Haley thanked the children and questioned them if they were ready for Santa to come this year.
"Who's been naughty? And who's been nice," he asked the children, who happily raised their hands to both questions.
Haley went on to explain the significance of the giving tree. "This tree is to help little boys and girls have a special Christmas like yours," he said. "NEX shoppers can take an ornament and buy them presents to fulfill their dreams during this holiday season."
As the children gave the official countdown, Haley performed the ceremonially lighting of the tree.
NEX customers can select an ornament with a child's wishes off the tree, and return gift purchases with the wish list tag to the NAS Jax USO (at the main gate) no later than Dec. 15. The USO wraps and delivers the presents.
The USO worked with all tenant commands command master chiefs to compile a list of children from NAS Jacksonville families who they felt could benefit from the giving tree.
"This is one of our favorite events of the year," said Brooks. "Each ornament on the tree represents a child who may need a little extra for Christmas. We host this event each year to give back to our community. It's festive and fun and we love it!"
Santa Claus even stopped by for the annual tree lighting to greet the children and listen to their Christmas wishes.
For more information, visit NEX Personalized Services or contact the USO at 778-2821.