For those who serve America, some Christmases can be spent far away from family and friends.
But Melvin Koelling, and others like him, are trying to show service members that they are not forgotten in the holiday rush.
“The objective is to show appreciation in this season for the service that the military personnel provides,” Koelling said. “And we express that through the donation of a Christmas tree.”
“I have identified with Christmas on a military base without family,” said Melvin Koelling, a retired Army captain, “We’re grateful for their service.” https://t.co/LJLbVDMP41
— WLNS Newsroom (@WLNS) November 30, 2021
“I have identified with Christmas on a military base without family,” Koelling said, KXAN-TV reported. “We’re grateful for their service.”
“We provided about a half a semi load of trees being delivered to military bases in Texas,” Koelling said. “Remember that Christmas is about giving, sharing and having family time.”
The Christmas Spirit Foundation has been trying to help troops get some holiday spirit for 17 years, said Rick Dungey, the Executive Director of the Christmas Spirit Foundation.
It’s a partnership, he noted, with about 55 growers supplying trees. For almost 15 years, FedEx has delivered the trees at no charge.
Trees for Troops, a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, provides free, farm-grown Christmas Trees to United States armed forces members in all branches of the military and their families. https://t.co/5fxzJ74vdY
— News 3 Now / Channel 3000 (@WISCTV_News3) November 29, 2021
“We’re excited to get these things on the road and get them delivered to the families,” said Chad Rulison, Operation Supervisor for FedEx Freight in Horton, Michigan.
“It amazes me each and every year to see the support of our local tree farmers and the turnout of the military to help load these trees,” said Garth Ellms, the third generation of his family to operate the farm.
“Those troops serving far from home and family are the reason we do this,” Ellms said. “Especially around Christmas, it’s important for us to continue doing this for them.”
One Guard member said the trees make a difference.
Volunteers in Ballston Spa load up Christmas trees for deployed troops https://t.co/84Yi90O1ge
— WNYT NewsChannel 13 (@WNYT) November 29, 2021
#HAPPENINGNOW: Trees are being loaded on this #FedEx truck here at Ellms Farm to be sent to troops overseas. They’ll have a little piece of home for #Christmas. I’ll have more on the annual Trees for Troops kick off on @WNYT LIVE at Noon. pic.twitter.com/IgYYGRSUp0
— Emily De Vito (@emilydevito) November 29, 2021
“It was a long time ago for me, but deploying over the holidays is always a difficult time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Wells of the New York Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “Having a tree was like having a piece of home.”
For the Guard members, there is a local connection. Guard members assigned to the 501st Ordinance Battalion, an explosive ordnance disposal unit based in upstate New York, are now serving in Kuwait.
“This is my first time participating,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Center, a member of the Joint Force Headquarters logistics section.
“My wife is currently deployed with the 501st EOD, and I thought this would be a great way to show some support.”
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