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NH, Vt. Christmas trees headed for soldiers - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

NH, Vt. Christmas trees headed for soldiers

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BETHLEHEM, N.H. - The holidays are a time for families to come together. But for some military families, it's also a time that highlights their time apart.  Trees for Troops is aimed to help with that separation.     

Sending soldiers a little touch of home, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan loads a Christmas tree into the back of a truck at the Rocks Estate Tree Farm in Bethlehem.  It's one of 450 trees from New Hampshire and Vermont being shipped to deployed soldiers and their families back home.  

"This is the 10th anniversary of Trees for Troops. And over that period of time we have shipped over 130,000 to military families," said the group's Nigel Manley.

For families with loved ones deployed in war zones the holidays can be a difficult time.  Julie Ferland's husband is on a Navy aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. "You know you don't get to go and do all the things you want to do and its hard when Christopher wakes up one morning and asks, where's daddy?" Ferland said.

With a little direction from the 2-year-old, Governor Hassan cut a special tree for the Sugar Hill Sailor. "It's like we kind of get to be there a little bit.  Because we picked out the tree and he is going to be able to have it decorated and in his office with all his buddies, so it is kind of like we are there," Ferland said.

FedEx Freight is a partner in the program, shipping trees to troops and their families all over the country for free.  The driver of this truck -- Charles Bouret -- is in the Rhode Island National Guard. "Some of the families don't make a lot of money and so it is nice to get a tree donated to them to have up around the holidays -- and maybe leave up until their loved one comes home," Bouret said.

Staff Sargent Mark McGuire is finishing up 20 years in the New Hampshire Army National Guard and has been deployed overseas six times. "It's never easy," McGuire said. "Christmas, Thanksgiving -- those types of events are generally family functions and you are not there.  It gets lonely."

But a gift that smells like home helps ease the loneliness. "One of the biggest things they like is the smell of the trees that we send them.  It reminds them of home," Manley said.

More than 200 trees shipped Monday came from Vermont farms, adding to the 18,000 being sent to soldiers around the country and the world this holiday season. 


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