FORT SILL, Oklahoma (Dec. 17, 2020) -- “The smell of Christmas is a live tree,” said Christine Smith, Fort Sill Recycle Center program manager. “Everybody likes the smell. It can’t be reproduced with an air freshener.”The recycle center’s warehouse was packed with the smell of Christmas trees Dec. 12-13, for the annual Trees for Troops giveaway. Over 200 trees were provided free to active-duty families on Fort Sill.“They’re beautiful trees,” Smith said. “This year is the biggest variety of trees that we’ve ever received. We’ve got some pines, some spruces — all different kinds.”Trees for Troops is a program run by the Christmas Spirit Foundation that provides free Christmas trees to military families across the nation, Smith said. The trees are donated by tree growers, or purchased by individuals or groups to be donated by the tree farm to the military. The trees are transported free to installations by FedEx.Fort Sill has been participating in Trees for Troops for at least 14 years, Smith said. She wasn’t sure it would happen this pandemic year, but the foundation contacted installations late in the summer to let them know that trees would be delivered.Usually, Fort Sill receives around 300 trees, but this year it received 210 trees. “That’s still a workable number,” Smith said.Most of the trees at the recycle center came from Ohio and Wisconsin, Smith said. Each tree had a Trees for Troops card attached. Many came with personal hand-written messages from the donor, such as “Thank you for your service. Merry Christmas!”At the center in Bldg. 3321 Naylor Road, trees were given away on a first-come, first-served basis; however, families could pre-register. Those who were pre-registered went to the front of the line, which began forming before the recycle center opened at 7:30 a.m. There were about 50 families in line when the center opened, Smith said. Doors closed at 5 p.m.As a precautionary measure, visitors were asked to wear masks and be physically distanced. Only six families at a time were allowed in the warehouse. Under normal circumstances, about 40 families would simultaneously peruse trees.The event also did away with providing hot cocoa, coffee, fruit, and cookies because of safety concerns, Smith said.Smith along with volunteers from her family, a recycle center employee, an MWR worker, and friends ran the operation. They registered folks, wrapped trees in nylon meshing, and, if needed, carried out the tree to the patron’s vehicle, Smith said.The nylon wrapping keeps the tree from flopping in the wind if it is being transported on the roof of a car, Smith said. The mesh helps trap pine needles.If any trees remained after Saturday, they were to be given out Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.Trees ranged from 4 to 12 feet tall, and were valued between $50 and $200, Smith said.Throughout the year the recycle center receives clothing in its textiles bin. The center’s staff sets aside the winter coats, little girls dresses, baby onesies, and ball gowns so they can be provided free to the community at the Trees for Troops giveaway. There was a clothing rack there, but no gowns were on it because balls have been canceled, Smith said.