Operation Evergreen: Ohio Christmas Tree Association sending 110 trees to US military bases overseas

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Evergreen trees from Ohio will soon bring holiday cheer to U.S. military bases in Kuwait.

The Ohio Christmas Tree Association is sending 110 trees overseas as part of an annual effort to brighten the season for service members. The packages of trees containing some ornaments from Ohio schools and churches were expected to arrive around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Operation Evergreen was started by the association in 1995, said Amy Galehouse, the program's coordinator. The idea was born out of an idea from the group's board, which had three members who were veterans. They had conveyed the importance of receiving gifts from home -- even if the items arrived in crumbs.

"So it was set up, and it's specifically for those folks who are so far away from home that they can't be with their families during the Christmas season," she said.

Trees have since gone to U.S. military installations in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The trees typically get displayed in the common areas at the bases, she said. Some go to units, but rarely go to individuals.

Soldiers will send pictures and emails to the volunteers who make the ornaments and decorations for the trees, she said.

About 40 tree growers in the state donated the trees this year, including Galehouse, who operates a tree farm near Akron.

Ohio's Department of Agriculture helped inspect the trees to make sure no bugs or diseases hitched a ride in the packages.

The trees cost about $130 each to ship, Galehouse said. This year, the association is paying for the bill through the help of donations.

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