FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Dec. 6, 2021) -- Nearly 500 free, farm-grown trees were distributed over two days to Soldiers and family members at Fort Drum, courtesy of the annual Trees for Troops program.
Fort Drum Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers members and volunteers helped to direct traffic and assist with the tree distribution Dec. 4-5 at the Main Post Chapel parking lot. The 10th Mountain Division Band performed a holiday set list to keep the mood festive at the event.
“We couldn’t do this without a good group of volunteers, and so we are so happy that we’ve gotten all of this support,” said Sgt. Mikayla Oleson, Fort Drum BOSS president. “It’s the holidays, so this is the time people want to give and get involved. For Soldiers, this is the perfect opportunity to help out Fort Drum families and get community service hours.”
For the past 16 years, the Trees for Troops program has provided more than 262,000 real trees to military families. This year, 14,500 trees were donated from 55 locations and delivered to 77 military installations across the U.S.
“I think this program is a great way to show appreciation for Soldiers, because they don’t have to spend a dime or even leave post to get a Christmas tree,” Oleson said. “What can be better than that? All they have to do is drive up, pick out a tree and bring it right back to their house.”
One Soldier had a tree delivered right to his car.
Pfc. Jason Barron, with D Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, had just parked his car when he was approached by someone at his window.
“I found you the best tree ever,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Mario Terenas, 10th Mountain Division (LI) senior enlisted adviser.
Barron agreed, and it wasn’t long before he had it strapped onto his car and he was on his way home.
Fort Drum is the first duty station for Barron and his wife, and he said that it wouldn’t feel like Christmas until they got a tree.
“My grandpa actually sells trees, so we were used to having a live tree every year,” he said. “Ever since I was little, there was a live tree at Christmas, so I want to keep that tradition going.”
Oleson said that picking out a tree was a holiday tradition in her family as well.
“Half the fun was going out and getting it,” she said. “That was always my favorite part. And just the smell of a live tree makes things better, and you have that the entire holiday season. I’m glad that so many families here will have that too.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.christmasspiritfoundation.org.