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Fort Drum receives 700 Christmas trees to be distributed to soldiers

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FORT DRUM — Several hundred soldiers will receive fresh Christmas trees, which were delivered to post Thursday morning.

The approximately 750 trees were made available through the Trees for Troops program of the Christmas Spirit Foundation, which this year has delivered more than 121,000 trees to military installations nationwide. The foundation is the charitable arm of the National Christmas Tree Association.

The program is in its seventh year on post.

C. Richard Darling, owner of Darling’s Tree Farm, Clifton Springs, who helped coordinate the delivery, said it was a way to connect to soldiers who were not able to head home for the holidays, some of whom are weeks away from deploying to Afghanistan.

“It’s a tough time for soldiers and their families,” Mr. Darling said. “We’re glad that we can give them a little feeling of home.”

Mr. Darling said the trees came from more than 150 donors, and the trees were from Northern New York and Nova Scotia, Canada. Each of the trees was tagged with a short message from families in the New England area.

The overall value of the trees being donated was pegged at about $20,000.

The trees will be distributed to units that had requested them, and from there will be provided to soldiers, many of whom will be staying in the barracks for the holiday block leave period.

Overseeing Thursday morning’s delivery were Maj. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the new 10th Mountain Division and post commander, and Col. Gary A. Rosenberg, garrison commander.

“It’s things like this that keeps soldiers and families in touch with the larger community,” Col. Rosenberg said. “This shows people recognize the sacrifice being made.”

Thanking soldiers who had volunteered to unload the trees as well as organizers of the program, Gen. Townsend noted the chilly weather before pulling from his waistband a Santa hat emblazoned with two stars.

“Had to bring out the appropriate headwear,” he said.

Gen. Townsend and Col. Rosenberg joined soldiers transferring trees from a FedEx tractor-trailer into a military truck. The delivery company distributes the trees for the program for free.

While unloading trees for about five minutes, Gen. Townsend was called down to present a series of plaques.

“Hell, I wanted to unload this whole truck myself,” he said, before being helped down.

The post has held a pair of Christmas events for soldiers and families this week.

“We want to make Christmas special for them,” Harold E. Greer, director of the post’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation office said.

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