Fort Drum— The holidays can be stressful on military families, especially if soldiers are deployed and military families are home caring for children. Darling Tree Farm has been donating and coordinating tree donation efforts for 8 years towards, “Trees For Troops.” C. Richard Darling, owner of Darling Tree Farm has been in business for 30 years.
Darling told ABC50, “7 years ago a local soldier was killed in Iraq. I didn’t know him, but it touched my heart. Ever since then, we decided to donate Christmas trees to troops.” 750 Christmas trees were delivered to Fort Drum yesterday morning. Mr. Darling said that the scent of fresh Christmas trees could be smelled 50 yards away. “You could just see soldiers brighten, there is nothing like bringing Christmas spirit to our troops who sacrifice so much for us”, said Darling.
The “Christmas Tree Farmers of New York” is a statewide organization where donating Christmas trees is a part of their “Christmas Spirit” branch. 1150 trees were gathered from 150 tree farmers, financial contributions were also gathered from organizations such as Blue Star Mothers, American Legion and American War Dads.
Money from the contributions went towards the cost of the trees. “We have two farms locally that gave us 100 trees a piece. If the tree is worth $40 it is $4000. The trees that were delivered yesterday cost around $30,000”, said Darling.
Not only does “Trees for Troops” donate trees in New York locations- Fort Drum and West Point, they equally donate trees countrywide. Every military branch including reservist units have received 19,000 trees across the country, a value of nearly $80,000.
120,000 trees have been donated since “Trees for Troops” began 8 years ago. Fed Ex has partnered with the Christmas tree organization, picking up and delivering the trees for free. “If they will be in harms way, we can help them out a little bit”, said Mr. Darling. He went on to explain that Fed Ex picks up in Scottsville, Wayne County, Weedsport, Saratoga Springs, and Hudson Valley. Mr. Darling praised Fed Ex saying, “We could not do it without them. It would cost way too much. We are grateful they have agreed to do this for free. It is a good cause to deliver the Christmas spirit to soldiers and their families.”