Nearly 100 fresh-cut Christmas trees donated from several Western Maryland tree farmers and businesses in Garrett County were picked up by the FedEx Corp. earlier this month at the Mountain Top Tree Farm in Oakland.
This is the first year FedEx is providing a truck to pick up the load of donated trees, according to Randy Sisler, organizer of the local effort and manager of Mountain Top Tree Farm. Trees will also be picked up in Frederick on Dec. 10 at the Mehrl Mayne tree farm.
The tree farmers belong to the Maryland Christmas Tree Association, which has joined with a national effort to collect and donate 6- to 7-foot cut Christmas trees for free distribution to U.S. military bases for the holidays.
Maryland tree farmers contributed a variety of tree species, which were all tightly baled for easy shipment.
The National Christmas Tree Association, through its Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, collaborated with FedEx, which donated its services for the fourth annual project.
Trees for Troops is expected to deliver more than 17,000 real Christmas trees from across the country to military families across the United States, as well as to soldiers serving overseas.
"Our military and their families have been providing a real service to our country," said Wayne Thomas, president of the National Christmas Tree Association and a tree farmer in Westminster. "As tree farmers, we want military families to be able to experience a traditional Christmas with a real tree."
Maryland Christmas Tree Association farmers grow trees on approximately 5,280 acres, with some 4 million trees planted and about 370,000 harvested annually. There are nearly 100 tree farms that belong to the association. Christmas trees are 100 percent biodegradable and they can be recycled for a variety of uses after the holidays. Discarded trees are used to stop erosion, provide fish habitat and make mulch for gardens.