Tom Dull and his wife grew their first Christmas trees in 1985. Since then, Dull's Tree Farm has become a 25-acre Christmas tree farm with a gift shop, petting zoo and refurbished log cabin.
Dull decided he wanted to spread the Christmas spirit even farther. So, he's been donating his trees to Trees for Troops for the past few years.
That soldier had been stationed in South Korea last year when a FedEx box arrived with a tree in it. The soldier checked the box to find out it was from Thorntown, Ind., telling Dull it was a special moment—a sign that someone at home was thinking of him.
"That was pretty cool, just brought it all home to us of how important this program is to the men and women who are serving," said Dull.
Trees for Troops launched its eighth holiday season Tuesday, sending Christmas Trees to men and women serving in the military overseas and on U.S. soil.
This year about 18,000 trees will be delivered to more than 60 military bases with the help of FedEx. The company donates shipping services to help men and women get a taste of Christmas.
"We are so lucky and blessed to be working with growers all over Indiana affiliated with the Indiana Christmas Tree Association and FedEx delivers them so they arrive fresh and green and beautiful," said DeLaine Bender with the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation.
The Christmas SPIRIT Foundation coordinates Trees for Troops and partners with the National Christmas Tree Association and the Indiana Christmas Tree Association, which donated 300 trees this year from farms across the state.
"To make sure America's heroes and their families are recognized for their sacrifices with a free, fresh, farm-grown Christmas tree. So, that's what we do. We collect Christmas trees and send them to military bases all over the U.S. and in the Middle East," Bender said.
SFC Zach Baker volunteered at his year's kickoff with other members from the Indiana National Guard. Baker was deployed to Iraq in 2005. During that time, Trees for Troops delivered a fresh Christmas Tree to his unit.
"Anytime during the holiday season when you're overseas it's nice to feel that connection to home and something that you can relate to, especially in relation to your family and what they have going on back here," Baker said.
The trees leaving Dull's Farm are heading to Kuwait this year, where Indiana National Guard members will unload and distribute them around the region.
If you'd like to get involved in Trees for Troops, ask your local tree farmer if they support the program. Many growers in Indiana take donations for Trees for Troops. You can learn more about locations supporting Trees for Troops or learn about donating at their website.