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NEWS | Dec. 7, 2016

Trees for Troops: the SPIRIT of giving

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation’s Trees for Troops program and FedEx Corporation provided 550 free fresh-cut Christmas trees to U.S. service members and their families at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Dec. 5, 2016.

 

Since 2005, tree farm owners and their customers have donated more than 176,000 trees, through the organization.

 

According to Michael Farist, 633rd Force Support Squadron warehouse manager each year, due to the high demand, active duty members and their families are encouraged to arrive early, because the trees go fast. Within the first 30 minutes of the event beginning, only 50 trees remained.

 

“It’s a great way for the civilian community to show their appreciation to service members around the world,” said Farist. “Families who donated money for trees usually write notes on tags that were placed on the trees with a small message of thanks and happy holiday wishes.”

 

The installation has been participating in the program for eight years, welcoming active duty service members of every branch of service in the local area to receive a free tree.

 

“I think it’s great that they give away trees, especially to Airmen. I’m an Airman 1st Class… so I think that’s awesome,” U.S. Air Force Airmen 1st Class Jenny, 633rd Intelligence Support Squadron cyber systems technician. “I heard about this from a friend of mine, and I don’t think I would have been able to get a Christmas tree if it wasn’t for this [program].”

 

For many service members, this program helped their families during the holiday season.

 

“We’ve bought real trees in the past, but we got the biggest prettiest tree we’ve ever had thanks to Trees for Troops last year,” said Sam Tebay, wife of Staff Sgt. Joshua Tebay, 10th Transportation Battalion, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) watercraft engineer. “I don’t know what we would do without it, especially because money has been pretty tight this holiday season. Without this program we wouldn’t have a tree this year.”

 

Each year, due to the high demand, active duty members and their families are encouraged to arrive early, because the trees go fast. Within the first 30 minutes of the event beginning, only 50 trees remained, said Farist.

 

“We have had several years where 400 trees were gone in an hour. We are only able to get so many trees so the sooner families get here, the better chance they have of getting a tree before we run out each year,” said Farist. “This is an amazing program and we hope to be able to work with them for many years to come so we can help as many service members as possible during the holiday season.”