Elves Work Behind the Scenes to Deliver Trees for Troops
The following is a guest post written by Nicole Feltes, project coordinator – Trees for Troops
For 10 busy days in December, Trees for Troops and FedEx Freight will deliver more than 18,000 Christmas trees to military bases across the nation.
However, the Trees for Troops elves work behind the scenes for months in advance to make the program a success. The time, resources, partnerships and good old-fashioned hard work it takes to deliver the spirit of Christmas to military families over the holiday season is a unique and remarkable journey each year.
It begins in the spring when the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation (CSF) and FedEx confirm their commitment for the upcoming season. This collaboration is the essential backbone of the Trees for Troops program; it marries the knowledge and resources of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation with the award-winning logistics network and tools of FedEx. In addition, sponsors, volunteers and donors are vital to keep the Trees for Troops effort going.
During the summer, CSF begins working with each branch of the military to distribute gift letters and gain military approvals for the program. Around this time, CSF also searches for overseas bases that can receive trees. It isn’t always an easy task to get international clearance for the trees – this process sometimes takes months.
— FedEx (@FedEx) December 16, 2015
In late August, the real fun begins. CSF begins the application process for all bases, farms and tree retailers. This is when military bases complete their requests for trees, Christmas tree farms commit trees to the program, and Christmas tree retailers sign up to participate in Trees for Troops Weekend.
In September, all of the tree commitments from farm pickups and retail lots, as well as all of the tree requests from military bases, are compiled by CSF and delivered to the FedEx logistics gurus. A small team works diligently to devise a plan for picking up trees from more than 75 different locations, routing them through the FedEx Freight network, and coordinating deliveries at 65 U.S. bases. CSF then communicates the details of tree pickups and deliveries with bases, tree farms and retailers in October.
The international shipment in mid-November marks the official Trees for Troops season kickoff. Dull’s Tree Farm, in Thorntown, Indiana, has graciously hosted the kickoff event for the past several years. Volunteers from the local Future Farmers of America, the National Guard and FedEx join farm owners Tom and Kerry Dull to ensure the trees are baled, boxed, stuffed with ornaments and cards and loaded to be shipped overseas via FedEx Express. These trees have the honor of helping troops stationed around the world celebrate the holidays with a little piece of home.
Once the international trees take flight, the action begins here in the U.S. and Canada. Christmas tree farms and retail lots coordinate loading events with the help of local volunteers and FedEx Freight that range from 50 to 5,000 trees. The donated trees come from Maine to Oregon, Nova Scotia to Florida and everywhere in between.
The first weekend of December, many Christmas tree growers and retailers host Trees for Troops Weekend and invite their customers to purchase a tree for a military family. Trees donated during Trees for Troops Weekend are picked up on Monday by FedEx Freight and added to the deliveries at military bases a few days later.
By the second weekend of December, Trees for Troops begins wrapping up the season. That’s when we get to reflect on the journey, the challenges, the surprises and the cheer brought through the gift of a simple Christmas tree.
Our Trees for Troops team is extensive, and ranges from corporate executives to delivery truck drivers, Christmas tree farmers, veterans and consumers who purchase trees. Together this team pools their time, resources and talents to give back a small token of cheer to those who sacrifice so much for our freedom.
The 10 days in December of delivering Christmas cheer to the troops are our favorite days of the year. But the nine-month journey and the team that comes together to make the program a success are equally amazing!
To learn more about Trees for Troops or how you can join our team, visit www.treesfortroops.org.
Also, check out this cool infographic about the history of the Christmas Tree.