If you're looking for a worthy charity to support this holiday season, try Trees for Troops, which provides real Christmas trees in military settings and families' homes. This effort, founded by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, combines the support of FedEx, tree farmers and retailers around the U.S., and people like you to spread holiday cheer to our men and women in uniform and their families waiting back home.
LoveToKnow Christmas talked with Nicole Fischer, the program director for Trees for Troops, about the importance of the organization and how you can help-not just at Christmas, but all year long.
Trees for Troops Interview
LoveToKnow (LTK): Some people might be surprised to learn that many of our military families struggle during the holidays. How does a donation of a Christmas tree help make a difference?
Nicole Fischer (NF): Just like the rest of us, the holidays can be a tough time emotionally and/or financially for military families in our country. Often the simple gesture of donating a real Christmas tree to a military family can alleviate some of the financial pressure they feel during this time. It can free them up to buy a new toy for their son or daughter, or to help put a nice Christmas dinner on the table.
Many times, the families are just overjoyed that someone thought of them and their family during this time of year and provided a gesture of thanks. That kind of emotional support is often more valuable than money.
(LTK): The program started in 2005. From then to now, how has the program grown?
(NF): The program has grown immensely! In 2005, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and FedEx provided 4,300 real Christmas trees to military families at five bases in the U.S., as well as overseas. By 2006, the program almost tripled in size. In 2008, we delivered over 17,000 trees to military families in the U.S. and overseas.
Since 2005, more than 50,000 families have received a Christmas tree through the Trees for Troops program!
Touch One, Touch Many
(LTK): What have some of the families had to say about the donation?
(NF): The families just couldn't be more thrilled or appreciative about the donation. We have received many stories of thanks from families over the years. Many families who pick out their tree are expecting their husband, wife, mother or father to return home from a deployment in time for the holidays. Some families wait to put up the tree, and others want to surprise the returning soldier with their decorated tree. We received one story from a family that used the money they were planning on spending on their tree to purchase Christmas dinners for single soldiers who were on base during the holidays.
To read more of these stories visit the Trees for Troops site and on the left toolbar, click on "Messages from Troops" and "Read/Send Messages".
(LTK): Please walk us through the process of how someone can donate a Christmas tree.
(NF): For the past three years, we have offered the public the opportunity to purchase a tree for a military family through Trees for Troops weekend. During this weekend, consumers can visit one of 40 participating farms and retail lots and purchase a tree and then put it onto a FedEx truck. Those trees will be delivered to a base as part of the Trees for Troops program.
Visit our Web site for a list of participating farms and retail lots. If you don't have a farm or lot close to you, many locations will take phone orders for the program, so give them a call!
Help Out All Year Long
(LTK): If I can't participate the Trees for Trops weekend what other ways can I help?
(NF): If you are unable to purchase a tree for Trees for Troops weekend, there are plenty of other ways to help the cause!
- You can visit our Web site and make a donation directly online.
- This year we're encouraging people to host local fundraising events for the program called Tweetup4Troops. We're suggesting that local hosts conduct their Tweetup4Troops events the week of Veteran's Day. Visit Tweetup4Troops for more information.
- Also, feel free to follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/Trees4Troops and Tweet about us if you have a Twitter account!
You can also purchase a Trees for Troops t-shirt or sweatshirt from our Web site, and $5 from each item will be donated to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation. On our Web site, you can order an ornament to be donated along with the tree for a military family, and one for your collection.
(LTK): Anything else you'd like to add about giving real Christmas trees in military settings and to families?
(NF): We are excited about this year's program and appreciate your support!