The Ohio Christmas Tree Association has once again partnered with the state�s Department of Agriculture to send some Christmas cheer to troops overseas.
The group started �Operation Evergreen� in 1995 to send Christmas trees and decorations to service members that have been deployed overseas and won�t be able to make it home for the holidays. Over the past 20 years, they�ve sent trees to Kosovo, Qatar, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. The number of trees that are shipped each year ranges from from 29 to 320.
Learn more about how this amazing group effort works…
This year, the group plans to ship 100 trees that have been donated by various growers in the region. At an annual volunteer event put on by the organization, state inspectors make sure the trees are free of pests and other disease. Then, volunteers work to wrap, load and ship the trees from the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Columbus.
Operation Evergreen is a real community effort with students, retirees and veterans all working together to get the trees and decorations packaged and ready to ship. After the packages are sent out, the service members send photos of their decorated trees back to share with the volunteers.
�It means a lot to me, because I�m really thankful. I have a lot of family members who served and I�m glad we get to do this,� one student volunteer told ABC6-TV.
�It gives me a great opportunity to give back.� – student volunteer
For every 100 trees the organization ships, it�s estimated they�ll need 4,800+ ornaments, 3,500 feet of garland and 100 tree toppers and stands � all provided by donations. School students and church groups make hundreds of decorations and garlands each year for the project.
�I�m from the Vietnam War era,� Amy Galehouse, coordinator of Operation Evergreen told ThisWeek Community News at last year�s event. �People I went to school with served in Vietnam and were far from home during the holidays.
�It�s important to remember troops overseas,� Gale continued. �I lived overseas myself for a while. Veterans I know said that even if a box is full of cookie crumbs when it arrives, it comes from home, and that makes it precious.�
And because it�s not cheap to ship the trees, Operation Evergreen accepts cash donations. You can help make a service member�s holiday season a little brighter by making a contribution via the organization�s GoFundMe page.
(Images & video c/o Ohio Dept. of Agriculture)