A North Carolina Christmas tree will once again grace the homes of many military families this Christmas season, thanks in part to N.C. tree farmers through the Christmas Spirit Foundation’s Trees for Troops program. The donated trees come from tree farms in 23 states, including N.C. The foundation is a non-profit subsidiary of The National Christmas Tree Association. The program was started in 2005 by the NCTA, the same year the NC Christmas Tree Association and its member farms joined in helping spread the Christmas spirit.
“I am pleasantly overwhelmed at the response that growers each year continue to give,” said Jennifer Greene, Executive Director of the NC Christmas Tree Association. “It’s a great opportunity to say thank you and give back a little piece of gratitude for the military and military families that have given so much to us.”
“In 17 years, North Carolina has donated just under 20,000 Christmas trees,” said Greene. As of last year, the program has donated over 262,000 trees to troops across the U.S. and to troops all over the world. “It’s the grower’s busiest time of the year, so we reach out to the local junior ROTC cadets at the local high schools, as well as some Ag students and 4H students from some of the local high schools in the counties where we host the loading events,” she said.
This year, about 300 trees were collected from the NC Dept. of Ag and Consumer Services Upper Mtn Research Station, Laurel Springs, Alleghany County, and about 250 trees from the Avery County Cooperative Extension Center, Newland, Avery County.
FedEx has played a key role since the program’s inception in 2005. “We wouldn’t be able to do Trees for Troops without them,” Greene said, “They donate the transportation for all of those trees. FedEx, along with the Christmas Spirit Foundation determine which bases the trees go to and how many go to each base.”
The national program will donate to 77 bases and installations this year. In N.C., Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune – New River Air Station, and MCAS Cherry Point received trees. The destination of trees collected in Ashe County went to JRTC, Fort Polk, LA, NAS New Orleans, LA, and NCBC, Gulfport, MS. Trees collected in Avery County went to MacDill AFB, Tampa, Florida.