FORT BENNING, Ga. — Hundreds of Fort Benning families will enjoy a fresh Christmas tree this year thanks, in part, to several Michigan tree farms.
Trees for Troops, a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, in partnership with FedEx Corporation, delivered more than 700 trees to Soldiers and families here Monday. By 10:30 a.m., the line of families stretched down Gaudette Avenue, wrapping around the old tax center building, and continuing half a block up Ingersoll Street. Nearby parking lots were packed, but families continued to pour in well into the afternoon.
The trees included holiday messages affixed to the trunks. Handmade ornaments produced by kindergarten classes were included in the shipment.
The event was coordinated through the Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Outdoor Recreation office. Knowing the trees were donated by Christmas tree farms at the height of their selling season, Army wife Regina Famularcano said their generosity made her feel “humbled.”
“I’m very humbled that other people care so much about what the military is doing. Doing this during the holiday season helps us out a lot too because of the recession. It warms your heart and makes you appreciate the holidays more,” said the mother of two. “It was worth the wait,” said Tes Laanan, who picked out a 10-foot-tall tree with her daughter Amaya, 2. “We’ve had a real tree before (for Christmas) but it was a miniature.”
The trees were distributed on a first-come, first-served basis in the parking lot behind the Main Post car wash. Many families waited in line for hours for a chance at a free tree.
This was Trees for Troops sixth trip to Fort Benning, one of five original installations to receive trees when the program began in 2005.
The charitable organization, a branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, has delivered more than 67,000 trees to military families worldwide. The organization grew from efforts by Christmas tree growers in the 1990s to donate trees to National Guard units and other military personnel deployed in peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo and other regions.
“Everyone we talk to at the farms and at FedEx says it’s the least they can do for our troops and our military families who sacrifice so much all year-round, said Lauren Mangnall, program coordinator with Trees for Troops.
As a sponsor, FedEx helps trees reach military installations through its nationwide network of facilities and truck drivers. “I’ve been involved with it since the first year and as a former Soldier, I can tell you personally, it feels great to be a part of this,” said Ken Van Guilder, a spokesman for FedEx Corporation and a former mortarman who trained at Fort Benning. “It’s a small way for FedEx to say thank you to these families especially during the holidays.”
Recycle your Christmas tree On-post curb pickup dates: Dec. 29 and Jan. 5
You can also drop your tree by the Materials Recycling Center on Jamestown Road between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. Dec. 27 to Jan. 7, excluding weekends.