Nursing and veteran students donate trees to military families
Several members of the Student Nurses Club (SNC) and Student Veterans Organization (SVO) from Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) tagged trees at Bustard’s Christmas Trees in Lansdale on Dec. 3, as part of the national Trees for Troops weekend campaign.
MCCC nursing students raised $600 to purchase 25 trees by selling tickets for raffle baskets during the annual Whitpain Community Festival held at MCCC’s Central Campus in Blue Bell in September. This is the fifth year the SNC has raised funds to purchase trees. Over the years, they have donated a total of 125 trees with the help of Bustard’s.
“We have participated in Trees for Troops program for 11 years. This year the trees will be going to a Marine base in South Carolina,” said Jay Bustard, who owns the tree business with his brother Glenn Bustard. “I love working with this group of students from Montgomery County Community College. Together, we’re making a positive difference for military families.”
“I woke up this morning feeling excited that I would be helping people. I can imagine the impact on families and the kids’ faces when they get their Christmas trees,” said nursing student Yasming Stallworth of Philadelphia.
The student nurses invite members of the SVO to help with this project because of the veterans’ connection with the military families.
“It feels good looking out for families who have loved ones in the service,” said U.S. Army veteran Brandon Bailey, Norristown.
“We learn in the military to look out for each other, to have each other’s back and this project continues that,” added U.S. Marines veteran Robert Hartnett, Ambler.
“This is one way our nursing students connect with veterans and military families,” said Connie Fiorentino, assistant professor of nursing and SNC faculty advisor at MCCC. “They also participate in the Lansdale Hometown PA Hero Walk. These projects help to integrate the two groups of students.”
In 2012, Fiorentino explained, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden started a national initiative involving a commitment from nurses to serve veterans and military families. Nurses are often the first people to see military members when they return home and are facing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
The SNC’s officers and class representatives include: Eliza Magland, Souderton, president; Joshua Pelligrini, Philadelphia, vice president; Yasming Stallworth, Philadelphia, secretary; Leigh Lawton, Pottstown, raffle chairperson; Melanie Bucher, Souderton, class representative; Tina Alvarenga, Green Lane, class representative; Vuong Thach, Hatfield, class representative; and Kathleen Echelmeier, Lansdale, class representative. Participating SVO members included Jamie Hutchison, West Chester; Hartnett and Bailey.
Trees for Troops was launched by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation in 2005. Since then, more than 176,000 real trees have been delivered to military families at 65-plus bases throughout the United States and overseas. Trees are contributed by Bustard’s and about 30 other Christmas tree growers and retail lots in the U.S. To learn more, visit http://www.treesfortroops.org.
Photo 1: Members of the Student Nurses Club and Student Veterans Organization from Montgomery County Community College tagged trees at Bustard’s Christmas Trees in Lansdale on Dec. 3. The nursing students raised $600 to purchase 25 trees to donate to military families as part of the national Trees for Troops initiative. Back row, from left: Concetta S. Fiorentino, assistant professor of nursing and SNC faculty advisor; Robert Hartnett, Brandon Bailey and Jamie Hutchison. Front row, from left: Melanie Bucher, Tina Alvarenga, Eliza Magland and Yasming Stallworth. Photo by Sandi Yanisko
Photo 2: Montgomery County Community College nursing and veteran students purchased and tagged trees at Bustard’s Christmas Trees, Lansdale, Dec. 3, for military families as part of Trees of Troop. Photo by Sandi Yanisko
Photo 3: Montgomery County Community College nursing and veteran students wrote messages to the military families on the tree tags. Photo by Sandi Yanisko