To date, more than 225,000 trees have been donated to military families living on base. Find out how you can help make a Christmas a little merrier.

By Better Homes & Gardens
December 12, 2019
Courtesy of Trees for Troops

This season, thousands of military families will be receiving a special delivery—a farm-fresh Christmas tree donated by a complete stranger. Trees for Troops will deliver more than 17,000 farm-grown to more than 75 U.S. military bases around the world this week. The program is organized by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation (the charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association) and FedEx. Since 2005, more than 225,300 trees have been donated by tree farmers, organizations (like Girl Scout troops and church groups), and members of the public.

During the pre-Christmas season, shoppers at 58 participating tree farms have the option to purchase a physical tree for a military family. The trees at these lots are grown and delivered to each location by over 200 farmers from around the country. In addition to trees purchased in person, other trees are paid for with monetary donations made directly to the organization (a $40 donation pays for one tree).

Since the program launched in 2005, thousands of trees have been loaded onto FedEx trucks and delivered for free to bases around the country and abroad.

"We love that our trees can make the holidays better for a family who is far from home on a military base, or who may have one parent deployed this year," says Ann O'Connor, executive director of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation. "We really appreciate all the thank you notes, Instagram posts, and Facebook messages we get each year that let us know how getting a tree brightened up their holiday."

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The Adams family—Emily, Jarred, who has been active duty in the Air Force since 2010, and their three boys—are stationed at Corry Station in Pensacola, Florida, and will be receiving their third donated tree this week.

"It's such a blessing to know how many people are willing to think of little things like a Christmas tree that can make such a difference to a family that may not have much else in the way of a personal touch at the holidays," says Emily Adams.

- Emily Adams

Being part of a military family comes with sacrifices year-round, but can be especially difficult during the holidays. "You'll never know the impact it has on a family—especially when so many of us budget even tighter at Christmas—to be able to choose a tree free of charge for their family to celebrate with," Adams says. "Watching our children decorate it and laugh and talk about how pretty it is has been such a joy. It seems like such a silly and simple thing, a tree, but it's such a thoughtful and family-oriented item that we appreciate so very much."

The window to purchase a physical tree for this season has passed (all the trees will be delivered by this Friday), but you can still donate money directly to the organization through the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation website, which is already collecting donations for next Christmas. Another way to help the organization is to set Trees for Troops as your AmazonSmile recipient, which will donate a portion of every Amazon purchase you make all year, directly to the organization—at no extra cost to you!

The organization also accepts donations of ornaments, cards, and money all year long; if your budget is a little tight this season, mark your calendar to make a donation in the spring when volunteers begin coordinating for the next Christmas. To send a card or ornament to a military family, address your donations to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, PO Box 3729, Littleton, CO 80161.

"People are even more touched when the tree comes with a small ornament or note," O'Connor says. "These are very easy and affordable ways for families to get involved in our program even without a large financial donation."

If you are able to donate a tree, Adams says the recipients ask you not to donate anonymously. "We especially love when we know where our tree came from," she says. "Our first year we were able to write a thank you note to the contributor but the second year our tag identifying the giver didn't have any information on it. Let us know who to thank! We are so grateful!"

This article originally appeared on Better Homes & Gardens by Emily VanSchmus.

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