LEHIGHTON, Pa. — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Lt. Col. Michael Siriani of the Pennsylvania National Guard helped kick off the state’s 2017 Trees for Troops weekend, encouraging Pennsylvanians to donate real Christmas trees for distribution to active-duty military and their families.
Trees for Troops is a national program that provides free, farm-grown Christmas trees to armed forces members and their families each holiday season. This year the weekend is Dec. 1-3. Pennsylvanians can participate in the program by visiting a farm or retail lot participating as a Trees for Troops Weekend location and purchasing a tree for distribution to service members.
“This season we focus on our friends and families – our loved ones,” said Redding. “We gather around the centerpiece of our holiday celebrations, the Christmas tree. Through Trees for Troops, our service men and women receive a real Christmas tree, a reminder of home and family no matter where they are stationed. A small gesture of thanks for their sacrifices to protect us makes a significant impact.”
Yenser’s Tree Farm is a 140-acre, third-generation family Christmas tree operation outside Lehighton in Carbon County. More than 17,000 trees from Yenser’s and other farms will be heading to military installations throughout the country this month as a part of the annual program.
“Trees sent overseas help to lighten the burdens of those away from their families and the trees that stay stateside will brighten the hearts of our troops and families who are able to be home for the holidays,” said Siriani. “These trees are a great way to let all our military personnel know that we think about them every day, that we pray for their safety and that we are forever grateful for the sacrifices they make to ensure our freedom.”
Redding, Siriani and members of the PA National Guard helped to load a FedEx trailer with trees donated from the farm. FedEx partners to provide transportation services that ship Christmas trees to U.S. military bases nationwide and overseas.
“We’re proud to contribute to the program as a grower,” said Ryan Wentz, who operates the family business with wife Jan. “It’s just a little way to show our appreciation for the countless sacrifices that military families make each and every day.”
Since 2005, Trees for Troops has provided more than 176,000 Christmas trees to military families and troops in the United States and overseas.
The program is part of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, a non-profit branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, which represents more than 700 active member farms, 29 state and regional associations and more than 4,000 affiliated businesses that grow and sell Christmas trees or provide related supplies and services.
— Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture