<b> FORT STEWART, Ga. </b>-On one of the coldest days of the year thus far, more than 30 Soldiers were on standby just inside the gates at the auto crafts lot on Hunter Army Airfield, to aide awaiting Family Members pick and load one tree of their choice into their vehicle during the Trees for Troops giveaway, Dec. 11.

The trees were donated to show appreciation and to say "thank you" to those serving in the military and their Families, according to Trees for Troops Web site. Families were given one tree per military Family or single Soldier, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation is the charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Association.

Boldly braving the cold temperatures to pick out the perfect Christmas tree for the season, Trees for Troops patron Heather Delaney expressed her appreciation for the free tree.

"We love it. This is our third year doing it," said Delaney, "This is such a great thing that they are doing for us."

Delaney said this year it will take her a little more time to prepare the tree for the holiday.
"With us, it usually takes longer because when we are decorating the tree, he is usually taking ornaments off," she said referring to her toddler son Ryder.

James Ellison, FMWR Special Events Coordinator at Fort Stewart, said the trees donated by the Christmas Spirit Foundation (representing Christmas tree growers/distributors) and FedEx "were beautiful, freshly cut trees and went very quickly."

Soldiers from the BOSS program at Fort Stewart helped to unload the trees when they arrived and played a role in their distribution as well, Ellison said.

"We tied the BOSS program to the Trees for Troops program in the beginning because it was such a good program for them to be involved in, and they have been the primary support group for all the Trees for Troops programs ever since," he said.

A total of 453 trees were given out at Fort Stewart and Hunter during the annual Trees for Troops event. Ellison said 125 trees were provided to Hunter for distribution.

First to choose at the Fort Stewart distribution were Sgt. Angel Nieves, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and his wife, Sgt. Nakisha Nieves, Headquarters, Headquarters Company 4th IBCT.

A wait of more than an hour in chilly temperatures paid off, Sgt. Nakisha Nieves said.

BOSS Vice President, Staff Sgt. Krishna Gillis, U.S. Army Garrison, said helping the Family Members load their trees is a way for the single Soldiers to give back. "We help them get their trees loaded because they show us so much support during the year," she said about Soldiers helping Families.

Last year the Christmas Spirit Foundation donated more than 17,000 trees to servicemembers and their Families.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16