Saturday, December 2, 2006

Trees for Troops - Live from the Field

(Blog entries by Becky Rasmussen and Steve Drake of NCTA who are traveling with the Trees for Troops convoy in the Pacific Northwest.)

Filed by Becky Rasmussen
I thought you all were sending me someplace warm ... the weather in Vegas is 40 degrees and 20 degrees wind chill.

The Nellis AFB delivery went off without a hitch. The FedEx truck with nearly 600 trees (and a driver who was a Gulf War veteran) arrived on time. Plenty of volunteers were on hand to unload and make fresh cuts -- families began arriving around 10 to pick them up. Most of them are going to junior airmen -- a large number of soldiers here are deployed and some will be arriving just in time for Christmas. Everyone was very appreciative -- and the Base Commander stopped by to extend his thanks.

Filed by Steve Drake
Wednesday, Nov 29
Today was "media day" in the Pacific Northwest as the Victorian Country Christmas Festival and KMPS-FM featured Trees for Troops throughout the day. It started with a KMPS morning show interview with country singer Michael Peterson. Michael shared his experiences in last week’s mission to Afghanistan and his New Year’s trip throughout the Middle East. He took time to talk about the value of Trees for Troops and to urge listeners to support the program. In addition to the thousands of KMPS listeners, organizers estimate that about 50,000 people will visit the Festival. This is a great event for Trees for Troops and the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation.

Thursday, Nov. 30
Well, the Marines at Camp Pendleton did it again. This event –– this year about 1,000 trees were given at two locations on the base –– truly illustrates the huge impact of Trees for Troops on military families.

It is really hard for me to describe the event and share the feelings of watching Real Christmas Trees being so graciously received. The Marine families are truly excited about receiving the trees. Their stories are very poignant. The joy in their eyes and that of the children clearly demonstrate the true spirit of Christmas. The enthusiasm and dedication of nearly 30 FedEx volunteers adds to the festive nature of the event as families, Marines and FedEx employees unload the trucks and re-load cars. And, watching the families fret over finding the perfect tree is not unlike the families buying trees at lots and farms all over America.

This year’s Camp Pendleton delivery offered a special treat as my daughter Michelle (who lives about 15 minutes from the base) was able to take off work and help direct Marines to trees and assisted families to selecting their trees. She even convinced the cameraman of the local CBS TV station that he should interview her Dad.