View Full Version : Organization donates trees for troops

12-11-08, 07:51 AM
Organization donates trees for troops
Comments 1 | Recommend 1
December 10, 2008 - 7:22 PM

There's just something about a freshly cut evergreen in the living room that makes it feel like Christmas.

Growing up in Kentucky, Cpl. Jason Haney and his family would go and cut down their own tree each year. This year, instead of the woods, he went to the beach.

Haney and hundreds of other service members and their families lined up in the misty rain at Onslow Beach on Wednesday morning to take home one of about 800 Christmas trees donated by the Christmas Spirit Foundation.

The foundation, the charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, will deliver roughly 16,000 trees this year to troops and their families around the world.

"The foundation is about enhancing the spirit of Christmas," said Pam Helmsing, executive director of the National Christmas Tree Association. "It is just a chance to say ‘thank you' to our troops, and ‘Merry Christmas.'"

The trees are donated by growers or consumers, then shipped by FedEx Freight to 48 military bases. Last year, FedEx Freight donated about 51,000 miles to get the trees to their destinations, said Jim Mowrer, service center manager for FedEx Freight in the Wilmington area.

Helmsing said she was happy to see so many trees were donated, in spite of the current economy.

"It's just really touching," she said. "The spirit of Christmas is alive and well, regardless of people being economically stressed."

The weather Wednesday morning was more tropical than arctic, but there was no shortage of holiday cheer as volunteer Marines hoisted the trees into truck beds and on to car roofs.

Jason Davis was one of the Single Marine Program volunteers helping distribute the trees. He said he enjoyed helping other Marines, especially since many may not be able to spend the holiday with their families.

"Everybody who's come through has definitely been smiling," he said.

Military spouse Christy Suthard said she appreciated the chance to take home a free, live tree.

"It kind of humbles you," she said. "You always hear people say, ‘We support the troops,' but that's all they say ... (the Christmas Spirit Foundation is) actually putting their time and effort, and showing the support."

Haney agreed.

"I think it's awesome," he said. "It makes you feel appreciated - that we haven't been forgotten about."

Dan Clark drove Haney to the beach so both could pick up trees.

"It's just great that there's companies out there who care about the military," Clark said.

And why pick a fresh tree over a fake?

"There's just nothing like that fresh pine smell in your house," he said.

Contact interactive content editor and military reporter Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467.