Vanessa Butler had staked out a spot at Wetherby Field by 4:30 a.m. Monday, six hours before the gates opened for the annual Trees for Troops Christmas tree giveaway.
“There wasn’t a line when I got here, so I started one,” said Butler, who still huddled under a blanket in a lawn chair at 9 a.m., with a line of people a quarter-mile long behind her. By 10:40 a.m., she was on her way with a tree she was sure would satisfy her 4-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, who told her to bring home “the biggest and fattest tree” she could find.
Butler’s 10-foot Douglas fir was one of more than 850 trees donated through the FedEx Trees for Troops program, which distributes Christmas trees to military Families across the country. The trees are donated by individuals and businesses, including tree farms like the one in Pennsylvania that supplied Monday’s shipment to Fort Benning.
Edward Weatherly, manager of the FedEx Service Center in Smiths Station, Ala., stopped by to watch the event get started. Weatherly said few aspects of his job are as satisfying as this one.
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“This is a great thing, a nice way to say ‘Merry Christmas’ to these Families, and we’re so pleased to be a part of it,” he said.
More photos of the event are posted in the photo gallery at benningmwr.com.