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Press Release | Nov. 21, 2023

MEDIA ADVISORY: Coast Guard partners with Red Cross to give recruits home for the holidays

U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May

CAPE MAY, N.J.  –  

Editor’s Note:  Media interested in attending must RSVP with the TRACEN Cape May Public Affairs by Wednesday, Nov. 22, through email ( ) or calling  609-898-6362. Upon arriving at the base, be prepared to show government-issued photo identification and media credentials at the security checkpoint. Members of the media are requested to arrive at 8:30 a.m.
Who:     Coast Guard Recruits, Command Representatives, Red Cross, and Operation Fireside Host Family Members
What:    Operation Fireside host families pick up recruits at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May. Interview and photo opportunities available with recruits, families, and command staff.
When:   Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2023
               9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or when last recruit departs.  
Where:  Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, 1 Munro Ave., Cape May, NJ 08204

Additional:  Opportunities to interview families at their homes on Thanksgiving can be coordinated with the Red Cross by calling 609-206-4043 or emailing Diane Concannon at

CAPE MAY, N.J. – U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May and the American Red Cross will place more than 400 Coast Guard recruits with South Jersey families for Thanksgiving as part of Operation Fireside.

The Red Cross’ Operation Fireside has placed recruits with South Jersey families during the holiday season since 1981. It allows recruits to celebrate the holiday with a host family while they’re separated from their loved ones during the rigorous basic training program.

Operation Fireside has been coordinated annually by the American Red Cross Southern Shore Chapter in Cape May Court House, N.J., since the program started more than three decades ago. The Red Cross solicits and tracks volunteers and host families, while Training Center Cape May pairs each recruit with a family on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The families and the recruits will meet at Coast Guard Training Center Cape May’s Flores Gymnasium before departing the training center. While the recruits are off base, they will be allowed to eat as much as they want, call home, and relax before beginning training again the next day.

Training Center Cape May is the Coast Guard’s only enlisted basic training program, and more than 80 percent of the service’s workforce receives basic instruction here to become Coast Guardsmen.