Military and Police

Trees for Troops Celebrates 14 Years Giving Christmas Trees to Military Families

The holiday season is full of joy, spirit, and family. But for many military families, it can be a challenge to meet the increased financial needs and added expenses. Whether they are trying to afford visits to family far away or coping with unemployment or underemployment of a spouse as they put their careers on hold to support the military family lifestyle, the added financial burden during this time of year can put a damper on festive traditions. Trees for Troops is helping with that stress.

The Christmas Spirit Foundation wants to help military families celebrate the holidays by providing free Christmas trees to military members and their families through the Trees for Troops program. For 13 years, they have been partnering with corporate and individual donors to bring trees grown on American farms to families and individuals who need them.

Since its beginning in 2005, over 208,000 trees have been donated through the generosity of farmers and private donors. More than 17,000 trees were donated in 2017 alone!

Fed Ex partners with Trees for Troops to deliver the trees to bases all around the world at no cost. Fed Ex has traveled over 800,000 miles delivering trees. The trees have found their way onto 65 bases, including those overseas.

Generous Spirits

Trees for Troops works hard to get sponsorships and grants, but many of the donations come from individuals and small family farms that want to help military families make the most of their holiday season. The Trees for Troops Weekend drive, held the first weekend in December, invites families to participating farms to pick their own tree and hand-select one for a military family.

Farms all around the United States participate in the program, including growing operations in Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

“Christmas alone in a combat zone or miles and miles away from home can be a very lonely place,” said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Watts. “To know that these farmers will plant a seedling, nurture the tree for X amount of years, and care enough to box it up and send it to us, the impact is just profound.”

Getting a Tree

Trees are delivered to 67 military bases from all branches, where participating families nearby can pick up their tree. Following Thanksgiving, deliveries begin at the end of November and continue to mid-December.

Many military families look forward to the Christmas cheer that the tree delivery will bring, especially when they are faced with deployments or separation from extended family.

“On behalf of my family and myself, we would like to say thank you for our tree. It is a tradition in our family to have a real tree,” said the Autenrieth family to Trees for Troops. “We received our tree prior to my husband returning from Iraq. We have a few special ornaments we always hang as a family and were so thankful to have him return prior to Christmas to be able to hang [decorations] on our tree.”

For those deployed to far away places away from their families during the holiday season or for the families back home celebrating one member short, a real Christmas tree can be just the dose of holiday cheer that they need. The holiday season can put financial stress on any family, but for those having to choose between traveling to see family or affording a tree, the Trees for Troops program is there. Military families who are getting by on one income while the service member is deployed know that Fed Ex is there to help them by delivering a festive tree. Thank you for supporting military families during this holiday season.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Katie Begley

Katie Begley is a US Naval Academy graduate and former Surface Warfare Officer. In addition to being a military spouse, she is a freelance writer specializing in travel, education, and parenting subjects. Katie has worked in numerous communications roles for volunteer organizations and professionally for a local parenting magazine.

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