By Marc Kovac
Dozens of Ohio-grown Christmas trees are heading overseas to brighten the holidays for military men and women on active duty.
Volunteers from the Ohio Christmas Tree Association delivered the greenery to the Ohio Department of Agriculture in suburban Columbus on Wednesday, where the trees and decorations donated by schoolchildren were boxed and prepared for shipment.
This is the 18th year for Operation Evergreen, said Amy Galehouse, from Galehouse Tree Farms in Doylestown, longtime coordinator of and contributor to the annual effort.
Nearly three dozen farms donated trees this year, many from northeastern and eastern Ohio, including Bailey’s Christmas Tree Farm in Lordstown, Bradley’s Tree Farm in Vienna, the Cambridge Trading Co., MLS Trees in Hartville, Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Poland, Ruetenik Farms in Zoar, Storeyland Christmas Tree Farm in Burghill and Twinsberry Tree Farm in Shreve.
Trees were checked Wednesday for diseases or pests, then were tied and packed into long boxes. Roger Koch, a tree farmer from Butler County, kept busy packing the latter into a waiting truck.
His son did two stints in Afghanistan serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“We want to tell our veterans and our current active-duty military that we are interested in them and what they are doing for their country,” Koch said. “It’s a great thing. We have to do it.”
Hazel Harvey Elementary and Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Doylestown and the Western Reserve Middle School in Berlin Center were among the groups donating ornaments, cards and decorations.
Bolt Construction of Youngstown is helping to pay to ship the trees overseas.