This year we are sending between 12 to 15 trees,” said Pioneer Trails Tree Farm owner Mary Jan Perdulla. “The first year we did this was in 1999 when we sent three trees.”
A small group of volunteers gathered at the Poland tree farm on Friday to cut down the Christmas trees and prepare them for the next leg of the journey. Perdulla said they will be shipped to Reynoldsburg and the Ohio Department of Agriculture to become part of Ohio’s 300-tree contribution to Trees for Troops. The trees will be unwrapped, inspected for bugs and disease, then will be repackaged for shipment to troops serving in the Southwest Asian Theater (Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq).
Along with the trees will be packages of colorful ornaments that were made and donated from area schools. Perdulla said this year, she received ornaments from Poland North and Union elementaries, Liberty High School’s multiple disabilities class, Struthers Elementary, St. Nicholas Elementary, Maplecrest Nursing Home, Leonard Kirtz School in Austintown, Prospect Elementary in Girard, Western Reserve Middle School and Tiny Tots Daycare and Preschool in Struthers.
Once the inspections are done and the ornament packages attached to the trees, Fed Ex steps up and provides the shipping as their own way of honoring those serving in the military. They average around 17,000 trees each year since they got involved in 2005. This year, Fed Ex will hit their 100,000th tree under the program.
Helping out at the tree farm harvest were Stacy Agnew and Lee Ann Myers, both from PNC Bank in Poland. Myers said the bank got involved because of Agnew, who serves in the Air Force Reserves in Vienna. Agnew had just returned home in September after spending four months in Iraq with her unit. She said the troops overseas love getting a touch of home.
“These trees and ornaments will definitely be appreciated,” she said. “It’s a little bit of home.”
Perdulla said the trees will arrive around Thanksgiving so the troops can enjoy them for the entire month of December.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Veteran Gene Apgar and Pioneer Trails Tree Farm employee Ed Rigelsky take down one of a dozen trees that will be sent overseas for service men and women during December.