COLUMBUS -- 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 like Galehouse's in northeastern and eastern Ohio. The list included David Goerig from Leetonia in Columbiana County, Bailey's Christmas Tree Farm in Lordstown, Bob's Tree Farm in Zanesville, Bradley's Tree Farm in Vienna in Trumbull County, the Cambridge Trading Co., Pioneer Trails Tree Farm in Poland, Stepuk Tree Farm in Canfield, Storeyland Christmas Tree Farm in Burghill in Trumbull County and Twinsberry Tree Farm in Shreve.
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 school children.
The latter included involvement this year by Hazel Harvey Elementary School in Doylestown, Memorial Baptist Church of Poland, North and Union elementary schools in Poland and St. Peter & Paul Catholic School in Doylestown.
"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 next week's 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).
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.