Military personnel and their families stationed stateside will have a brighter holiday season thanks in part to the sixth annual “Trees for Troops” campaign, which is spearheaded by the National Christmas Tree Association with the cooperation of nearly 100 High Country tree farms.
Essentially, the program provides local tree growers the opportunity to donate Christmas trees to soldiers who cannot venture home for the holiday season so that they can enjoy the comfort of a Christmas icon that has become synonymous with the holiday itself.
On Wednesday, field workers and members of the Ashe County High School JROTC braved a chilly and relentless rain at Cline Church’s Nursery in Fleetwood to load nearly 650 trees into FedEx trailers, which will be transported to Ft. Polk, LA. The Ashe County drop-off is one of two in North Carolina. Additional trees will be collected at the Forestry Service in the community of Linville in Avery County.
Newly appointed NCTA Director Jennifer Profit Greene explained that the NCTA became involved in the program to show its appreciation to soldiers and their families.
“It’s just one of those feel good things that makes you know you are doing something good for people that do something good,” Greene said. “It just seemed like a very, very small way to just try and give back a portion of what they give every single American.”
Greene said that NCTA and the accompanying volunteers are optimistic that they will be able to collect nearly a thousand trees by the conclusion of this week.
“We’ll reach it,” Greene said with a beaming smile.
James Cline Church, proprietor of the nursery, explained that he originally became involved in the “Trees for Troops” program for the satisfaction of knowing that he can help bring joy to military families who are stationed at their respective bases during the Christmas holiday.
“Just knowing that we are hopefully bringing joy to a lot of families and just knowing soldiers and their families are going to enjoy a tree is a great feeling to be a part of,” Church said.
Altogether, the holiday tree drive will help deliver between 15,000 and 16,000 North Carolina grown trees to troops stationed throughout the United States this year alone. Last year, the drive was successful in providing almost 17,000 trees to military families.
Church and Greene agreed that growers from over 100 farms in Ashe, Watauga, and Alleghany counties have participated this year alone. The cooperation of one of the country’s leading delivery services has also enabled the NCTA to make the program a reality every Christmas.
“It was an effort of the NCTA to put the program together and we actually approached FedEx to see if they had any interest in working with us and of course they did and it has been a great relationship since then,” Church said.
Church explained that farms throughout the northwestern mountains have been generous in their donations.
“Every one of them has been more than happy to give a few trees,” Cline said.
For more information on the “Trees for Troops” program, visit online at www.ncchristmastrees.com or call (828) 262-5826.