For many years, Christmas tree growers have been providing free trees for charitable purposes. In the 1990s, some organized efforts started through which trees were given to National Guard units and other military personnel who were deployed in peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo and other regions of the world.
In 2005, the National Christmas Tree Association developed the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation (CSF) as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization to advance the spirit of Christmas year-round. The foundation quickly developed plans for a national Trees for Troops program that could unify the individual programs of tree growers and state Christmas tree associations.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and our corporate partner FedEx organized the 2005 program in only 45 days and delivered 4,300 Real Christmas Trees to families at five military bases in the U.S. and overseas. The following year, the program nearly tripled when 11,854 military families received trees. In 2007 the program grew even more, as CSF and FedEx delivered 16,846 trees to more than 40 bases in the U.S. and overseas to seven countries. The program has continued to grow and expand every year since its inception through the generosity of donors and the work of many volunteers.
In 2017, CSF and FedEx reached a monumental milestone by delivering the 200,000th Real Christmas Tree.
To date the Trees for Troops program has delivered more than 243,955 trees to military families in the U.S. and to troops stationed overseas in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Spain and Guam. Christmas Tree growers and individuals around the country donate the trees, while FedEx provides the shipping for them. While a donated Christmas Tree may seem like a small gift, CSF receives countless e-mails and letters from families saying it was the best gift they could have received during the holidays. Not only are many military members away from their families during the holidays, but many military families are also away from their extended families. In some cases, “Dad” or “Mom” is overseas, while the rest of the family is also far from home. It is our hope that the gift of a Real Christmas Tree will help bring the feeling of home a little closer, wherever they may be spending their holiday, as well as alleviate some of the financial burden the holidays can bring.
The Trees for Troops program continues to grow with the generous support from many involved.
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