Coast Guard Recruits enjoy holidays with local families -

Coast Guard Recruits enjoy holidays with local families

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    Here in South Jersey, some Cape May County families are opening up their homes to Coast Guard Recruits.

    "We're really appreciative. It's kind of like a second family," says William Johnson, a senior Coast Guard Recruit.

    While many spend Christmas Day with their families, Recruits in training for the Coast Guard are not as fortunate. But thanks to families like the Browns of North Wildwood, these young men and women have a chance to take a break from training, and get in the holiday spirit.

    "It's just a wonderful thing to be able to help them out at Christmas and I know their families will be happy to know that they have a place to go on Christmas Day," says Sheila Brown, who hosted Coast Guard Recruits today in her Cape May County home. 

    "And they're opening their homes to us on a special holiday when we can't be with our families and it's great," says Nicole Wagner, a Coast Guard Recruit.

    The Browns have been opening their doors to Coast Guard Recruits for 10 years and say they are more than happy to bring joy to their faces on Christmas Day."

    "It's just a wonderful, warm feeling. We just look forward to this all year throughout. We just love having them here," says Brown.

    Although these Recruits cannot talk to their families during most of their training, Christmas Day is an exception.

    "Let's them go into a person's home and experience a nice home cooked meal and lets them talk to their own families," says Captain Todd Prestidge of the United States Coast Guard. 

    More than 200 recruits are also spending Christmas Day with families all across South Jersey. Officials say Operation Fireside is a day for these men and women to experience family.

    "It gives them the spirit of family during Christmas time which is so important. It gives them a much needed break during the rigors of pre-recruit," says Prestidge.

    "It's very nice. We don't necessarily have to keep our eyes on the boat. We're aloud to relax and laugh and smile," says Wagner.

    Recruits say it's a Christmas gift like no other.

    "This is the best Christmas gift any serviceman can get on the holiday's," says Johnson.

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