With 584 Christmas trees stacked in long rows before them, the school’s fifth graders got to work,occasionally breaking into spontaneous caroling. Each tree had to be tagged and loaded into two FedEx trailers waiting to carry them to Fort Gordon in Georgia. It’s all part of the national Trees for Troops program, which delivers Christmas trees to military families throughout the United States and abroad.
The Rocks has participated in Trees for Troops each year since its inception in 2005, and BES students have been an integral part of the local effort since 2006. The trees piled at The Rocks Monday morning came from 20 Christmas tree growers throughout New Hampshire and Vermont – and will carry the sweet fir scent and the spirit of the holidays to military personnel and their families who often spend the holidays far from home.
BES students begin working on their annual Trees for Troops effort in the fall, contacting area businesses to solicit donations – between $1,000 and $2,500 each year – keeping track of fundsraised, sending thank you letters to contributors, and writing out a tag for each tree. The tags include holiday messages, the name of the donor or farm for each tree, and often a student-drawn holiday picture.
“This is something the kids look forward to. It really matters to them,” said BES teacher Sue Greenlaw, who helps orchestrate the effort. “I’m always amazed at the level of enthusiasm and the work ethic that comes through when we’re loading the trees.”
Helping load trees Monday were BES Principal Shelli Roberts and Superintendent of Schools Pierre Couture, as well as members of the North Country Chapter of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association and a contingent from Mountain Star Farms.
Since its inception in 2005, Trees for Troops has delivered more than 176,000 Christmas trees to over 65 military bases. FedEx is a vital partner in the program and has donated well over 653,400 miles to deliver the trees. This year Trees for Troops expects to donate and deliver 21,000 trees from 450 farms in 25 states.