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Local Farmers Sending Trees to Troops - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Local Farmers Sending Trees to Troops

Jericho, Vermont - November 24, 2009

     A dozen balsam firs were the first of 150 Christmas trees Bob White will pick up on a daylong drive across Vermont.
     "It's 32 Vermont farms," he said. "Start down in Bennington, go all the way up to Canaan. Every corner of the state there's farms donating trees."
     They have been donated to a program called Trees for Troops, which provides a Christmas centerpiece for military members who won't be home for the holidays.
     "What we like to think is it's a little piece of home no matter where home is," White said.
     White, who owns White's Tree Farm in Jericho, says the program began in Vermont about five years ago and has since spread nationwide. Fresh Christmas trees are shipped to military bases and families of deployed troops.
     "The one thing we want to tell the families is there's a community around to support them. We all think positively about what they're trying to do and we know they having difficult times," he said. "To give them a lit bit of something that says hey, people are thinking of you, we hope goes a little way to help make a little better holiday season for them all."
     White says it takes all year to plan the mobilization -- how hundreds of trees will be harvested, collected and prepped for shipment across the country. Tree farmer Max Paine says the effort is worth it. His Morristown tree farm was the roundup's second stop.
     "I was in the military back in the '60s and I know how important it is to have something from Vermont," he said. "That's how come I like to support the troops too."
     Organizers say donations from local tree farms are up more than 100 percent from last year, up from about 150 trees a year ago to more than 400 trees now. Much of the increase, they say, is due to this year's large deployment of Vermonters. Paine says it's emotional and financial support soldiers of his generation didn't always have.
     "I've been there and done that," he said. "The military doesn't make a lot of pay and any way we can help them out to benefit their family and their kids is beneficial too."
     Farmers don't know where their trees will end up. But they do know their efforts are appreciated.
     "What we see, and have seen for a number of years now, is families will come in here, guys that come back out of the war zones, that kind of stuff, and stop in and say thanks for thinking of the families," White said.

Kate Duffy -- WCAX News

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