Area growers send trees to troops
Two large FedEx trailers arrived at Cline Church Nursery early on Wednesday, Dec. 2, and it wasn't long before nursery employees and members of the Ashe County High School Junior ROTC program began the task of loading 650 Christmas trees onto the trucks.
The mood was cheerful on the cold, rainy morning, as volunteers knew that the trees were on their way to provide a little holiday cheer for members of the United States Armed Forces.
The event marked the fifth consecutive year that Cline Church Nursery has served as a pick-up site for the Trees for Troops program, one of two pick-up sites in North Carolina (the other is in Linville). The program collects donated trees from around the nation and delivers them to troops, both ashore and abroad. In 2008, they donated 17,032 trees in total, most coming from more than 700 tree farms in 29 states.
Jennifer P. Greene, director of the North Carolina Christmas Tree Association, was on hand and said the event is "just one of those feel good things that makes you know you're doing something good for people that do something good.
"They do something meaningful for us," Greene added. "This is a very, very small way to give back a portion of what they give to every single American."
She noted that the trees from Fleetwood were going to be delivered to Fort Polk in Louisiana.
James Cline Church, who owns the nursery with his family, said that the trees came from "probably 100 different farms" in Western North Carolina and that each farm was "happy to give a few trees for the effort."
Cline said he enjoys "knowing that we're hopefully bringing joy to a lot of families and that soldiers and soldiers' families are going to enjoy a tree. It's a great feeling to be a part of it."
Church, who serves on the board for the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), said that the program was originally conceived by the NCTA and got a boost when FedEx agreed to ship the trees for free.
The Trees for Troops program was held for the first time in 2005. Since then, more than 50,000 trees have been "distributed to families at every branch of the military at [more than 50] bases in 17 countries, according to a press release from the Christmas Spirit Foundation (the non-profit group that runs the program).
In addition to donations from farmers, many retail locations across the country provided the opportunity for individuals to purchase trees to donate.
Church said the NCTA will deliver more than 15,000 trees to more than 50 military facilities.
To find out more about the Trees for Troops program, click to http://www.treesfortroops.org. To find out more about local Christmas tree farms, click to http://www.ashecountychristmastrees.com.