Friday, December 3, 2010

FFA Volunteers for Trees for Troops

The air was filled with the festive scent of pine as we arrived at Dull’s Tree Farm outside of Thorntown, Indiana where FedEx representatives were gathering with FFA members from local FFA chapters along with other volunteers for the Trees for Troops program.  My teammates and I received warm greetings as we approached the big, red, vintage barn that was the center of activity on the farm.

I got to help hang the banner on the barn. And in April 2010, the Campbell Soup Company, the FFA and local volunteers restored the Dull family barn as part of the Campbell's helps Grow Your Soup program.

 We as a team were instantly energized by the enthusiasm radiating from everyone that had congregated there!  You could feel the Christmas spirit that was ever present. 

Even one of the cats was interested!
This was about the time that I turned to my teammate Nellie Bell and said, “You know what would really kick-start the Christmas spirit here?  Santa hats…”  About that time, Kevin Connelly, a FedEx employee, came around the corner with two arms filled with dozens of bright purple Santa hats, and said, “Who wants Santa hats?!”  This is when I momentarily turned into an excited, impatient 5-year old and screamed, “SANTA HATS!”

Here we are with our Santa hats along with some new friends.
The level of Christmas cheer would only continue to rise as preparations for the morning’s event were being completed.  Tree’s For Troops:  a nation-wide movement that has been made possible by FedEx with the intentions of spreading Christmas cheer overseas to those brave men and women that are serving our county in our military over the holidays.  Five years ago, Tom Dull, owner of Dull’s Tree Farm, began hosting the event on his very own farm. 

Tom Dull (in the red jacket) talked with us about the program and how we would be processing the trees.
 Tom, along with several other local tree farmers, had compiled nearly 200 donated trees to be put through the process of being packaged and shipped out that morning.

Dull's Farm was selected for the processing due to its proximity to Indianapolis and the Fed Ex station (which donates all the shipping).
To prepare the trees, they have to first be measured out with seven feet being the maximum height (trees that were too tall were cut accordingly).  They would then be “baled” or wrapped in netting that squeezed and slimmed their branches down so that they would be easier to package. 

Fellow FFA officers Nellie and Janna along with our FFA Executive Director, Steve Hickey get the trees prepared for processing.

Following the baling process, they were then tagged with a “Trees For Troops” label and then shoved into a narrow, rectangular, seven foot tall box.  Before the boxes were taped shut, Christmas lights and ornaments made by school children from central Indiana were added to make for a complete package! 

Megan helps another volunteer finish the boxes.

The boxes were then loaded to one of two FedEx trucks according to where they were going.  Half of the trees will go to the Great lakes Naval Air Station in Illinois, and the other half is headed for the Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait. 

In front of one of the trucks you see Deputy Chief of Staff for Lt. Governor Skillman and Executive Director of the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, David Terrell (left) and Indiana Agriculture Director Joe Kelsay when they stopped by to show their support on heir way to Knox County.

I think that simply being aware of the great cause that we were all serving made our time working fly by because before we knew it we were finished.

Hot chocolate, coffee, donuts, and homemade cookies were provided to all who attended that day after our work was finished.  We made goodbyes to all of our new friends from FedEx and Dull Tree Farm, and left the farm knowing that our service will allow many soldiers overseas the ability to be a little closer to home for the holidays!
From FFA: Following the Future of Agriculture

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