Chelsea and Douglas Helkowski's Christmas just got a little more special thanks to the Trees for Troops program which delivered 50 trees to Cape May Coast Guard Training Center. This is their first Christmas at base, and their first as a married couple. Chelsea completed boot camp last December, and she and her husband were married in May. Douglas completed boot camp about a month ago. According to the Cape May County Herald, the Helkowski's are very appreciative of the holiday gesture.
"Awesome," Helkowski said. "Just awesome that we get a real tree, it's our first Christmas at the base, and our first Christmas as a married couple. What a great program this is to make sure our military are remembered at the holidays."
Cape May is just one of many military bases around the country -- and overseas -- which participates in the Trees for Troops program. The program, now in its tenth year, plans to deliver more than 17,000 Christmas trees this year. Trees for Troops is a program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, working together with FedEx and members of the National Christmas Tree Association and many state and local Christmas Tree associations. Trees distributed at the Cape May base were from Mahoney's Evergreens in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Tillman's Christmas Trees, in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has been involved with the Trees for Troops program since it began in 2005. Owner Ron Tillman is a Navy veteran. On December 2, he was one of several volunteers who loaded over 225 trees into a FedEx truck bound for Fort Carson, Colorado. All of the trees were grown in Northeastern Wisconsin reports the Green Bay Press Gazette.
"This is something we can do that makes you feel good, and I like to do it," Tillman said. "It's something we can do for the people who are serving our country and giving us our freedom. We appreciate it very much."
Jon Bigler, owner of Rolling Hills Tree Farm, says his reward is in the letters and photos he receives from military families on the receiving end. He displays the letters in his shop where he also collects donations for the Trees for Troops program.
"I got a letter back from a family at Fort Campbell, Ky., and they were saying they were married five years and this was the first Christmas they spent together. And they spent it with my Christmas tree. It makes you feel great."
Since 2005, more than 122,000 free, farm-grown Christmas trees have been provided to troops and military families through Trees for Troops according to the Cape May County Herald. Thousands of trees are donated by American farm families and the public, and FedEx delivers these trees to more than 65 military bases overseas and in the U.S. FedEx has logged more than 419,000 miles for the Trees for Troops program in the U.S. FedEx is one of many organizations supporting the military, which also includes Toyota and the USO, as reported previously by the Inquisitr.
Cape May FedEx terminal manager John Hewitt says its a chance for a "real feel-good type of delivery."
"We handle all types of freight every day," Hewitt said, "and to be able to deliver these trees to the men and women in the military who defend us every day is just a great experience. It's a chance for us to recognize their contributions and make sure they have a happy holiday."