News 12 First at Five / Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012
WARD, S.C. -- Christmas trees are beginning to fill homes all across the country, and Trees for Troops is making sure military families have a Christmas tree as well. Each one of the military trees is donated from tree farms across the country, including right here in our area.
One hundred and twenty-eight Christmas trees were loaded up Tuesday at Wright's Tree Farm in Ward, S.C.
"It's just a small way that we can give back to those who give so much for us," said Stuart Smith.
Smith and his wife, Judy, own the tree farm that is the state donation site for the Christmas Spirit Foundation.
"Tree growers throughout the country donate trees to be collected by FedEx and delivered at no cost to the Spirit Foundation," Smith said.
Trees for Troops donates thousands of trees each year to military bases across the country. Last year, 17,000 military members and their families received a tree.
"Since 1995 when the program started, last year we delivered our 100,000th tree," Smith said.
The trees are also sent overseas.
"We feel like this just gives them a small token of home that they are missing out on," Smith said.
For the Smiths, it's personal. Smith's father-in-law who started the farm was a colonel in World War II.
"He was always a strong supporter of anything related to the military," said Smith's wife.
"That had a big influence on us following this program," Smith said.
Since the program began, the Smiths have donated more than 500 trees, and it's something they'll continue to do as long as they can.
"For me, it makes my work all year worth while," Smith said.
In total, the state of South Carolina will donate 300 to 400 trees.
"I feel like they deserve a whole lot more compensation than they get and this is just one little piece that we can add too because these families give up so much," Smith's wife said.
FedEx delivers the trees to bases all over the country and abroad for free. The trees from Wright's Tree Farm will go to bases in Pensacola and New Orleans.
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