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Troops to receive free Christmas trees from Spring Grove farm

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013 10:33 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
George Richardson loads a Christmas tree onto a truck Monday at the Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. The Richardson's mission is to donate about 75 fresh-cut Christmas trees, which will be shipped to American military families at domestic and foreign bases worldwide.

SPRING GROVE – Richardson Adventure Farm expects to sell 5,000 Christmas trees this holiday season to families in the area, but it’s the several dozen trees they are giving away that will make the biggest impact.

Richardson Adventure Farm is one of 750 Christmas tree growers across the country that participates in Trees for Troops, a program that delivers trees to more than 60 military bases in the U.S. and overseas.

Funded by the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, a nonprofit branch of the National Christmas Tree Association, and sponsored by FedEx, Trees for Troops has donated more than 121,000 free Christmas trees to U.S. troops and their families since 2005.

Richardson Adventure farm, located in Spring Grove, has participated every year since the program’s inception and plans to donate 55 of its trees this year. An additional 20 trees were brought to Richardson’s farm from Lee’s Trees in Lily Lake.

Farm Owner George Richardson Owner George Richardson spent Friday afternoon loading the 75 trees into a FedEx truck, which would then be delivered to a select military base. He said you can’t underestimate the value of sending service men and women a Christmas tree.

“The military personnel live on a pretty low wage,” Richardson said. “They have a lot of benefits when they live on the base, but they don’t have a lot of money. We thought this would be a nice way to spread the Christmas spirit by giving these extra trees to the troops.”

Customers are able to buy a tree for the troops – and include a hand-written note – or give a monetary donation to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, but Richardson donates the majority of the trees himself.

Richardson said Trees for Troops took off when FedEx agreed to ship the Christmas trees for free in 2005. Since then FedEx has logged more than 419,000 miles for the program.

“FedEx offered to do all of the transportation of these trees, which was a magnificent gift,” he said. “I think the value of their gift is over $250,000 in just the trucking on a per mile basis.”

Richardson hand picks all of the trees that are sent to the military bases, most of which are Frazier Furs and Douglas Furs, then travels to the Great Lakes Naval Base to watch the soldiers pick out their trees.

“It’s such a huge hit on the base to get a real Christmas tree,” Richardson said. “These guys are away from home for Christmas. To get a Christmas tree on the base, it means a lot to them.”

“There’s that one-on-one experience,” said Wendy Richardson, George’s wife and Christmas SPIRIT Foundation board member. “We’re not just dumping the trees in one place for them to come and pick up. We open them all up and they look around and select the one they want. That’s the part that feels good to me.”

To learn more about Trees for Troops or to donate to the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, visit www.treesfortroops.org.

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