Program to send trees to soldiers short of funds

November 28, 2009

Each of the past three years, James Ward of Westminster has sent 5,000 miniature Christmas trees to soldiers overseas, but this year he might have to leave thousands empty-handed. Ward said he has had trouble finding $25 donations for the 2-foot-tall trees that come complete with lights, ornaments and, most importantly, American soil. The foundation, Operation Christmas Tree, started after Ward sent a few dozen trees to his stepdaughter's unit in Iraq in 2006. When he found out how much the troops loved the trees, he decided to expand the operation to troops in countries around the world. But this year, the foundation has seen a major decrease in donations, Ward said. By the beginning of the month, it had enough money to send out about 200 trees. He blamed the lack of money on a bad economy. The project costs a total of about $125,000 each year, with the price of the trees, ornaments, lights, pots and shipping materials, Ward said. While corporate sponsors sometimes help out (this year Home Depot offered to lend a hand), a lot of the money comes from individual donations. For more information, go to operationchristmastree.com.

- Capital News Service

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