Between studying for tests and finishing some last-minute projects, these fifth-grade students are sending 600 donated Christmas trees to service members who will be on duty around the world for the holiday season.
The sweet Yuletide initiative at Bethlehem Elementary School in New Hampshire is their contribution to the Trees for Troops program, currently in its 14th year of operation.
For the troops receiving the trees, the gift of Christmas cheer makes a substantial difference. Sam Patree, one of the first Bethlehem students to participate in the Trees for Troops program, has since become a U.S. Marine. 14 years after he helped donate trees to service members, Patree has received his first tree from the program.
And students aren’t the only ones pitching in to cheer overseas soldiers. More than 200,000 sustainably grown trees from 25 states have been donated to Trees for Troops since was founded in 2005, and FedEx ships them for free.
In addition to teaching the students how their efforts can positively affect the world, it has also taught them valuable life skills, such as fundraising, time management, and the importance of resource allocation.
“They learn how to raise money,” organizer Nigel Manley told WMUR. “They do cold calling. They write all the tags that send special messages to the troops, and we put them on the trees.”
“I know how it feels to be away from your family and your loved ones during the holidays. It’s a really tough season,” Sam Petree told WMUR. “These kids are supporting the troops, learning about them and what they do, and with that, it builds respect for everybody.”
Visit the Christmas Spirit Foundation to get involved with their tree donation program.
(WATCH the news footage below) – Photo used with permission, Trees for Troops on Facebook
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