MASON, Mich. (WLNS)— Christmas is the time of the year people spread holiday cheer to their community.
Melvin Koelling is a retired U.S. Army captain who served a total of eight years in the military. Koelling says he understands how rough Christmas can be for troops across the country who are celebrating the holidays apart from family and friends.
“I have identified with Christmas on a military base without family,” Koelling said. “We’re grateful for their service.”
Koelling now operates Tannenbaum Farms which is a family-owned Christmas tree farm. The tree farm is donating Christmas trees to service members and their families across the United States.
“We provided about a half a semi load of trees being delivered to military bases in Texas,” Koelling said. “Remember that Christmas is about giving, sharing, and having family time.”
Tannenbaum Farms is able to provide free donated trees through the Christmas Spirit Foundation’s program, “Trees for Troops.”
“For 17 years in a row now, we have delivered over 260,000 free Christmas trees to troops and their families at bases all over the United States,” said Rick Dungey, the executive director of the Christmas Spirit Foundation.
Dungey told WLNS this year they hope to get as many as 14,500 total Christmas trees. This year they are picking up donated trees from nearly 55 locations across the country, and for nearly 15 years FedEx has delivered the trees for free.
“We’re excited to get these things on the road and get them delivered to the families,” said Chad Rulison, operation supervisor for FedEx Freight, Horton, Michigan.
Rulison is going in person to areas in Michigan working with tree farmers like Koelling to deliver holiday cheer.
“We’re going to take them back to our service center in Jackson,” Rulison said. “From Jackson, they’ll go down to our Indianapolis terminal from there, they’ll go down to Oklahoma, and then from there they’ll go into the Texas area.”
“The objective is to show appreciation in this season for the service that the military personnel provides,” Koelling said. “And we express that through the donation of a Christmas tree.”