GOBLES – The gift of a 5- to 8-foot Christmas tree goes a long way.
That’s why the Gobles, Mich.-based Wahmhoff Farms Nursery donates dozens of trees each year for the Trees for Troops program, an annual initiative that sends trees to U.S.- based military personnel.
On Monday at Wahmhoff Farms Nursery, roughly 530 trees were loaded into two FedEx Corp. tractor trailers. From there, the trees – donated from Wahmhoff Farms and other Michigan Christmas tree growers – will be delivered to Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in Jacksonville, N.C.
“We love it,” said Betsy Wahmhoff Perales, executive secretary of the family-owned and –operated Wahmhoff Farms Nursery. “The way we can use Christmas trees to bless families – that's our livelihood. For our family, (Christmas) is about celebrating the Savior's birth, and Christmas trees are kind of a central (image) for the celebration. For the military, they now have a tree that can take them back to their childhood memories or to have family traditions around even the tough times.
“It adds a little magic to their lives.”
Wahmhoff Farms has been part of the Trees for Troops program since 2006, delivering a variety of trees – but primarily Frasier and Canaan firs.
According to Nathan Kane, service specialist for FedEx in Kalamazoo, North American tree growers will donate roughly 17,000 trees in 2018 to 65 different military bases worldwide. In the program’s 14 years, Trees for Troops has sent more than 200,000 trees to military bases all over the world.
“It's nice to know that there are all of these farmers out here who are willing to donate their trees in time to make sure (our troops) have as normal a Christmas holiday as possible when they are stationed at our military bases,” Kane said. “Christmas trees are a vital part of Christmas. To have a Christmas tree at these military bases, where our troops normally don't get them, they can now still have that spirit of Christmas, that sense of normalcy.”