Number of Participants: 70
Hours Donated: 40
Value of Time Served: $23,660
Event Type: Veterans & Military Families
School: School 7-Oceanside Senior High School
Date: December 4, 2023
Oceanside High School
Skillman Avenue, Oceanside
The Scholar Athletes in Service to Others Corps is a group of young people who have demonstrated the core values of Oceanside High School Excellence in Academics, Athletics, and Character. They applied and were selected to be part of this special program. For this past December 4th, 2023, the Trees for Troops event, they worked to prepare cards and ornaments and packed over 700 Christmas trees onto DHL trucks at Dees Nursery in Oceanside. They prepared gifts and special letters to the troops overseas who would be receiving the trees, menorahs, pine cones and many other remembrances of home at a time when they needed them most.
On Monday morning, December 4th, 2023, the DHL trucks were packed and ready to leave for Kennedy Airport where they would be loaded onto DHL commercial planes and then immediately flown to a military base nearby which would transfer the boxes and trees to large military transport. This military transport would depart for the military bases in the Middle East. By Wednesday evening, pine cones, Christmas trees and menorahs and ornaments would arrive at every military base and every ship in the Middle East from Bahrain to Saudi Arabia to Iraq. No soldier would be forgotten because of the work done by Dees Nursery and Oceanside Scholar-Athletes in Service to Others.
Before the trucks departed, these Scholar-Athletes were fortunate to meet the military men and women who had come to Dees Nursery to honor this day…the 20th Anniversary of the “Trees for Troops” Mission. They met a colonel who had served three tours of duty in the Middle East and who personally remembered how much it meant to him to receive these Christmas trees when he was in the middle of the desert on Christmas Eve. They met two Gold Star parents, who although they had lost their sons in battle in the Middle East, they remembered getting letters from their sons about how much it meant to them that this place in Long Island had sent these special gifts to them…especially, the scent of pine from Christmas trees grown on a farm in Maine…in the USA.
The scholar-athletes were also commended personally by an officer from the Marine Corps who explained to them that what they were really doing that morning was expressing and affirming the “core values” which were at the heart of all these men and women who would not be home for Christmas or Hanukkah because they were thousands of miles away making the huge sacrifice of being away from their families to “serve us” and to work for peace in the world, but also, if needed, to defend us and our freedoms.
This Marine officer encouraged the Scholar-Athletes in Service to Others to build their present and future lives on this principle: “to be men and women for others,” to be people who “lead by serving others” just as they do as part of their Oceanside Athletic teams. He looked at this Scholar-Athletes in Service Others group of young people.and said to them, “And you know, this is exactly what you are about…as you come here today you represent in action and deeds…the core values of Oceanside High School Athletics and Academics and the core values of this great Oceanside community. You represent exactly what our men and women are doing today in the Middle East and around the world. We thank you for being here today and doing all you have done the past weeks to help prepare with Dees Nursery… the gifts and cards and trees about to be sent to our men and women stationed so far away…who are serving and protecting us. May God keep them safe and bring them all home soon.”
In addition to all of this, one of our students, Mary Jane Brosokas, was recognized as the recipient of the “Jim Adelis Good Samaritan Scholarship.” This award is given to a student who cares for others and demonstrates this in their actions and character in service to others in their community. The scholarship is named after Jim Adelis who worked with Dees Nursery and DHL 20 years ago to help begin this mission to serve our men and women overseas. and in the Middle East. Mary Jane Brosokas is a senior at Oceanside High School and is part of the Dance team and a member of the Scholar-Athletes in Service to Others Corps.
This is the story of the Trees for Troops mission and the 20th anniversary of this amazing day. Special thanks to Dees Nursery and Mr. and Mrs. DiDominica, and to our Oceanside Administration: our Superintendent Dr. Harrington and our principal, Dr. Mitchell, and our high school administrators, Mr. Mekeel, Ms. Hennessey, and Mr. Carbonetti, and to our Faculty and Founding Leaders of Scholar-Athletes in Service to Others program: our Athletic Director, Mr. Tom Lehman, Mr. Luisi, and Mr. Barbaccia. We also thank Mr. Zybert, Ms. Kossaris, and Ms. Holden, who with our Scholar-Athletes, helped launch a huge effort of holiday letter writing for our troops serving in the Middle East and around the world.
We have approximately 70 Scholar-Athletes in Service to others, (Grades 10-12 …Varsity Athlete in Good Standing with an unweighted GPA of 90 or better and a letter of recommendation about their character from the Head Coach of one of the teams they play for .) They also do service for others and work on many projects. They generally volunteer for about 30 to 40 hours a year, though some students exceed that doing 70 or more hours, which includes tutoring underclassmen, helping and mentoring students in our elementary schools, visiting with our Middle School students, fundraisers, special competition basketball for our students with special needs, running wellness and mental health awareness days, supporting all students in our school with academic difficulties, working on projects to help the less fortunate in our community.
Submitted by Ms. Hennessey, Mr. Mekeel, Mr. Lehman, Mr. Luisi and Mr. Barbaccia
Oceanside High School Scholar-Athletes in Service to Others
December 8, 2023