Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas trees bound for troops' families
EmailPrint Text size – + By Alex I. Oster
Globe Correspondent / November 29, 2007
Besides the nip in the air and the Christmas carols playing in shops, there's another sure way to know Christmas season has come again: the sight of flatbed trucks filled with tightly bound evergreens, destined to become Christmas trees.
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Mahoney's Garden Centers, with locations in Chelmsford, Concord, Tewksbury, and Winchester, among others in the Boston area, is stocking up on those trees because, this weekend, some people may buy two.
Mahoney's is the only retailer in the state participating in the Trees for Troops program, run by the nonprofit Christmas Spirit Foundation. Anyone buying a tree tomorrow through Sunday can spend about $20 or $30 more to buy a tree for a military family. Mahoney's kicks in $5 toward the shipping.
Both grades of tree are about the same height, but $30 trees are heavier and statelier.
FedEx Corp., which sponsors the program, will pick up the trees Monday and deliver them to one of several military bases around the country, where military families can pick a tree for free. The closest military base to receive trees will be Fort Drum in upstate New York, but trees go to bases in Virginia, South Carolina, and around the country.
Flatbeds brought 2,000 trees to Mahoney's last week in preparation for the season.
Tom Mahoney, a managing partner at the retailer, said he was sure hundreds of people, if not more, would participate in the program.
"It's a way people can support the troops in a tangible way," he said, adding that he wants "to make sure their Christmas is what it is to me and my family."
This year is Mahoney's first in the program, which began in 2005. In previous years, smaller Massachusetts tree growers participated. Heavy demand and a drought have left those growers strapped for trees, so this year those growers will make monetary donations to the program, while Mahoney's will supply most of the trees, said Laura Dooley, a manager at Mahoney's who is organizing the program.
The Christmas Spirit Foundation partners with tree farms around the country. The program has grown greatly since its inception. In its first year, 4,300 trees were delivered. This year, the foundation expects to deliver about 20,000.
In addition to delivering trees to military families in the United States, the foundation will deliver several hundred trees to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and aboard ships in Southwest Asia.
Although Mahoney's will be shipping trees only from its Winchester location, tags that will be attached to donated trees will be available at all locations.
© Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.
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