NEWPORT, VT - Families of military personnel will have a Christmas tree this year thanks to the generosity of tree farmers in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Tuesday, trucks from the Vermont Forest and Parks Department drove throughout the state to pick up trees at different tree farms and tree stands such as Breezy Hill Acres. Breezy Hill Acers has a stand across from the Cumberland Farms Store on East Main Street in Newport City.
Carl Szych, owner of Breezy Hill Acers, has donated 10 trees for the program for the past 10 years.
“I’m very much supportive of the troops,” said Szych. “They’re taking care of us, keeping us safe.”
Drivers of the trucks took the trees to Bethlehem, NH. From there Federal Express trucks will transport the trees to where military families can retrieve them. The trees are primarily for families of deployed troops.
Bob White of White’s Tree Farm in Essex, who picked up the trees from Breezy Hill Acers, said that in the past some trees went to families who live at Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Drum, NY, and other years the trees went to Navy ships.
“You don’t know where they’re going to go until after,” said White. “Some might end up going overseas.”
When Vermont had numerous troops deployed, many went to Vermonters. With fewer troops deployed, trees go to the national program.
Vermont tree farmers became involved in the program long before the national program came into existence, White said.
White, a veteran of the Vietnam War, participates in the program so that soldiers know they are appreciated, something that many veterans from his era didn’t feel. The program has caught on and many people are now performing good deeds for soldiers. White was has been participating in the program about 10 years.
White praised Federal Express for helping with the delivery of the trees.
The Vermont Department of Forest and Parks has been helping with the program for six or seven years.
“It gives a good feeling to use our equipment when we can for a good cause,” said Tom Cady, Regional Ranger Supervisor for the Vermont Department of Forest and Parks, who helped pick up some of the trees Tuesday. “The trees are a Vermont product that’s going worldwide.”
As of last year, Vermont and New Hampshire tree farmers donated 103,000 trees to the program.