By Marc Kovac
Dozens of Ohio-grown evergreen trees are on their way overseas as part of an annual effort to brighten the holidays for men and women serving in the military.
The Ohio Christmas Tree Association, with help from the Ohio Department of Agriculture and volunteers, boxed 100 trees Tuesday for shipment to troops in Kuwait. The group has been sending trees overseas for nearly two decades.
Amy Galehouse, from Galehouse Tree Farms in Doylestown, coordinates the program as a way to support troops who can’t be home for the holidays.
“They’re far away from home,” Galehouse said shortly after school groups unloaded trees and decorations from the back of her pickup truck. “They can’t be where their families are.”
A number of trees were donated by farms such as Galehouse’s in Northeast and eastern Ohio.
The list included David Goerig from Leetonia in Columbiana County; Bailey’s Christmas Tree Farm in Lordstown; Bradley’s Tree Farm in Vienna; Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Poland; Stepuk Tree Farm in Canfield; and Storeyland Christmas Tree Farm in Burghill.
Donated trees were delivered to the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s headquarters in suburban Columbus, where an inspector checked them for disease or pests.
They were then tied and packed into long boxes along with cards, hand-made ornaments and other decorations, many provided by schoolchildren.
The latter included involvement this year by Memorial Baptist Church and North and Union elementary schools, all in Poland.
“They put email addresses from the schools [with the trees],” Galehouse said. “Quite often, they get responses back. ... We occasionally have had one of the guys come back and visit a school and say, ‘I got your ornaments.’”
The finished boxes were taped and loaded onto a United Parcel Service truck, then sent on their way.
Some may arrive in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The trees cost about $130 each to ship.
Galehouse said the Ohio Christmas Tree Association is footing the bill this year and has collected about half the total cost in donations.
Additional information about the program is available on the association’s website ohiochristmastree.com.