|WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2008 – A Christmas
tree farm in Whitehouse, Ohio, is celebrating the holiday
season by giving away 100 Christmas trees to military
“We've been giving
trees to military families since the war started,” Duke
Wheeler, owner of Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm, said. “We
feel it's important to let these families know that we
appreciate their sacrifices. ... We're grateful for all that
The tree farm is giving away 7-foot Christmas trees through
Dec. 20 to military families who have a servicemember
overseas or a servicemember who recently returned from duty.
Family members can cut down their own tree at the farm or
have it cut down while they wait.
Wheeler also participated in the annual “Trees for Troops”
weekend, which took place Dec. 5 to 7. For each Christmas
tree bought at participating Christmas tree farms, another
tree was donated to a military family.
“Trees for Troops,” a Christmas Spirit Foundation and FedEx
Corp. program, has delivered more than 34,000 real Christmas
trees to military families since it began in 2005. The
program has grown from about 400 Christmas tree farms and
retailers participating to more than 850. Nearly 17,000
families at more than 40 military bases received a Christmas
tree in 2007 through this program.
As a member of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association,
Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm also takes part in “Operation
Evergreen,” a 12-year-old program that allows American
servicemembers to celebrate Christmas with a live Ohio tree.
For the program, trees are cut and collected from several
Christmas tree farms around Veterans Day, and transported by
the growers to the Ohio Department of Agriculture in
Reynoldsburg to be inspected, packed into boxes and put on a
FedEx truck for overseas shipment.
“This year alone, with 20 growers, we had 30 high school and
middle school students come and help us pack 325 trees,” Amy
Galehouse, Operation Evergreen coordinator for OCTA, said.
Galehouse said the trees were shipped out Nov. 12 and
arrived in Kuwait on Nov. 18. “It usually takes two weeks
for the trees to get all the way to Afghanistan,” she said.
“Seventy-five went into Iraq, 100 into Kuwait and 150 into
Wheeler says he is happy to be a part of all three programs
that reach out to servicemembers and their families during
“This is just a small token, a simple ‘thank you,'” Wheeler