Operation Evergreen begins mission to get Ohio trees to military personnel

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POLAND, Ohio — A group of veterans gathered Nov. 4 at the Pioneer Trails Tree Farm to let troops serving overseas know someone is thinking of them.

The veterans from different branches of the military worked to cut down several Christmas trees and bale them so they could eventually be transported to troops serving overseas.

The vets said that when they served or were overseas for Christmas, seeing the real Christmas trees from the United States gave them hope that someone was thinking of them.

Beginning

The Ohio Christmas Tree Association developed “Operation Evergreen” in 1995 with 30 trees sent to troops that first year. In 2010, 219 trees were sent to troops. To date, Operation Evergreen has delivered an estimated 3,000 trees.

Approximately, 300 Ohio-grown Christmas trees will be delivered this year, according to the Ohio Christmas Tree Association.

Farm donation

Pioneer Trails Tree Farm, owned by Mary Jan Perdulla and her husband, Frank Perdulla, are donating 15 trees to the effort.

Perdulla said her family’s farm has been participating since 1999 and likes to participate in the program so that the holidays are a little brighter for military men and women.

“It gives them a piece of hope from home,” she said.

Dave Grimm, an Army veteran from Lowellville, Ohio, who was helping cut the trees last week, said that the trees and ornaments are a way to celebrate Christmas and to make it a little more special. He said when serving, a military person only has the immediate people he is serving with to celebrate with, but with a tree, the holidays can mean just a little more like home for them.

“It means a heck of a lot. I spent many of them (holidays) away from home. I know what it means,” said Gene Apgar, who served 18 years total in stints with the Army, Marines and the Air Force.

The trees were cut Nov. 4 and will head to Lordstown the week of Nov. 7. From there, approximately 70 trees will head to Doylestown, and then to the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg Nov. 10.

Ag department inspectors will check over the trees for an potential problems with insects or diseases before the trees are sent overseas by FedEx. This year, the program is targeting troops serving the Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq regions.

All of the trees, tree stands, packing and ornaments’ shipping is donated by FedEx.

Ohio-grown trees

In addition to the trees, more than three dozen ornaments, often made by local schoolchildren, will be sent with each tree.

Each tree will also carry identification to let service men and women know that it came from Ohio.

These trees are the first of an estimated 17,000 that will be provided to military families stationed at more than 60 bases in the U.S. and overseas through the national Trees for Troops program.

The goal of the program is to have the trees delivered to those serving by Thanksgiving.

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