Since 2005, Stokoe Farms, with the help of volunteers and generous donations, has contributed each holiday season to the Trees for Troops program.
The trees are packed tightly into special boxes. Students and senior citizens contribute handmade ornaments, cards and candy. "I think it's something important to show them that we support them and that we're thinking of them," said Suzanne Stokoe, one of the owners at Stokoe Farms.
Four years ago, Stokoe Farms began sending trees directly to local troops as well. "You're away from family, away from that tradition," noted Stokoe. "And just a little piece of something green from home can have a huge impact on the morale."
Sharon Arthur passes out flyers at the Chili American Legion to help identify recipients. "It's very near and dear to my heart," she said.
This year a tree will arrive at bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Korea and elsewhere. "They don't keep it to themselves," said Arthur of the tree recipients. "They put it in a central location so everyone can enjoy it."
The feedback from soldiers over the last seven years has been inspiring. "They send us wonderful thank you's and it really motivates you to do more and contribute more," said Stokoe.
The trees big shipment will go out November 30 to make sure all the troops get them in time for Christmas.