Courtesy Trees for Troops
Service members pick up their Christmas trees from West Point.
This time of year is particularly special for a sector of growers who base their businesses on the traditions of the season. So it’s no surprise that Christmas-tree farmers have come together to pass along the spirit of the holidays in a way only they can: by providing live Christmas trees to the men and women who serve our country.
This year, more than 700 farms from 28 states provided about 18,400 trees to the troops through the Christmas Spirit Foundation’s Trees for Troops program. The trees were delivered to 65 military bases in the U.S., as well as to bases in Kuwait, Bahrain and Spain.
“People appreciate the sacrifices military members and their families make each and every day,” says Dick Moore, president of the National Christmas Tree Association and owner of Moore Tree Farm LLC in Groton, N.Y. “As Christmas-tree farmers, we want to provide a little Christmas spirit and maybe start a new tradition with military families to be able to experience a traditional Christmas with a real tree.”
The Trees for Troops program reached an important milestone this year by donating its 100,000th tree since the nonprofit program began in 2005. It was received by Sgts. Jonathan and Jessica Felix and their children Kaya and Jonathan II.
Whether the trees made it to the homes of families, like the Fieldses, who had a tough time adjusting to their permanent change of station, or others like the Prices at Fort Bragg, who welcomed their father and husband home this Christmas, this year’s Christmas-tree donations were enjoyed and appreciated by their recipients. Many expressed their thanks on the Trees for Troops website and Facebook page. Here are some of their stories:
“We have four kids who were overjoyed to get a tree from [Trees for Troops] this week. It was our first time putting it up without dad. I think it fell over three times, only one strand of lights worked, and I am sure our effort to give it a fresh cut with a dry-wall saw was pretty entertaining to watch. These were all things that made us laugh and realize just how much we rely on our missing family member. We finally got the tree up and it is gorgeous!”
–Cherise, Virginia Beach, Va.
“I went to Luke Air Force Base with my son, Conrad, this morning to pick up a Christmas tree. He is stationed at Luke. Just as we were adding the lights, two F-16s flew overhead. I live about 15 miles from base, and it’s rare for me to hear the jets, let alone to actually see them flying. It was just such perfect timing that I couldn’t help but believe it was divine intervention. It brought tears to my eyes and a prayer of thanks for the troops, past and present, who have sacrificed to give us freedom.”
–Cheryl N., Phoenix, Ariz.
“My husband is deployed this year and will be missing Christmas. He also missed the birth of our first child and will be meeting her this Jan. 2012 once he is home. I just wanted to thank [Trees for Troops] and the Delp Tree Farm from St. John, Kan., which is where our Christmas tree is from. It is such a beautiful tree, and we are so grateful that it was donated to us for our daughter’s first Christmas. Without their generosity, we would not have had a tree this year.”
– The Hubbell Family, Rapid City, S.D.
If you are a tree farmer and want to take part in the 2012 Trees for Troops, there are several ways you can help:
- Donate trees through your state or regional Christmas-tree association
- Host a “trailer drop” on your farm, offering customers the chance to buy a tree to donate
- Offer sponsorships to customers and local businesses who want to help sponsor a tree
- Collect donations to help offset Trees for Troops expenses
Find more information about how you can help on the National Christmas Tree Association website or by contacting Amy Mills at the Christmas Spirit Foundation at 636-449-5060.