CAPE MAY — More than 300 U.S. Coast Guard recruits are being placed with dozens of families in New Jersey as part of an annual tradition known as Operation Fireside.

The American Red Cross for 33 years has united host families with the recruits at the Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Capt. Owen Gibbons, the commanding officer of the training center, says that the generosity of host families means that the recruits will be able to celebrate the holiday in a way they'll never forget.

The training center is the service's only facility that transforms volunteers into enlisted personnel during a 53-day program of exercise, drills, and studies from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Many of the young adults are away from home for the first time.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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