These Messages From Trees for Troops Recipients Will Warm Your Heart
by Lauren Magnall
Imagine a smiling group of U.S. soldiers gathered around a Christmas tree that was grown on an American farm and shipped to arrive fresh and green somewhere on the other side of the world, just in time for Christmas. Or, imagine a military spouse and children sharing joyous memories of Christmas through the gift of a free, real Christmas tree while their family member is away serving our country. Trees for Troops makes this vision a reality!
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx made this program a reality for the first time in 2005. That year, the program was organized in only 45 days and delivered 4,300 live Christmas trees to families at five military bases in the U.S. and overseas. Now, with the generous help of FedEx, we distribute 16,000-17,000 trees each year.
FedEx has been amazing to work with over the past nine years and we are so happy to collaborate on this program. Many of the drivers volunteer to make the tree pickups and deliveries, and they look forward to Trees for Troops every year!
Some may think that giving a Christmas tree to someone, even someone as deserving as a military family, is a kind gesture, but how does it really help? There are other charitable programs that provide necessities like food, clothing and household items.
Those charities do great work for our service members, but the goal of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation is to bring the spirit of Christmas and memories of home to soldiers with the gift of a farm-grown Christmas tree. A Christmas tree is a tangible item, but it’s what it represents and the memories it holds that mean so much to the recipients.
The thank you messages, cards and photos that we get every year from families that have received a tree can bring you to tears. They are so heartfelt and thankful for this gift that makes their burden a little easier during the Christmas season. Troops serving overseas commonly talk about how good the trees smell.
U.S. Navy Senior Chief Mark Watts, who was stationed in Kuwait when he received a tree from the program, tells us,"Where I was at, there was nothing green. So to get that live, pine smell, it smells like Christmas and reminds you of Christmas."
Other troops and their families shared:
“I haven't seen my kids smile so much and as big as they did tonight. For that, I thank you, and it truly means the world to me.”
“We aren't going to have many gifts this year, but having a beautiful tree in the living room was enough to help us both bring back memories of Christmases past and the love and sharing that we miss from our families back home and those that aren't with us to celebrate anymore.”
“This Christmas will be a bittersweet one, because I am deploying within days after Christmas, however this tree has made it very special because we have never had a real tree. It is so perfect, and the kids (5 of them) really enjoyed decorating it. Thanks for the great memory!”
The Trees for Troops program has delivered more than 139,000 trees to military families in the U.S. and to troops stationed overseas in countries, such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and Spain. That number represents not just 139,000 Christmas trees, but hundreds of farm families that grew those trees for 5-10 years and then donated them to this program. It represents 139,000 military families that got to experience the joy of having a real Christmas tree during the holidays. And it represents hundreds of thousands of new memories that will last a lifetime.