November 29th, 2017 18:55 EST
New York National Guard Delivers Christmas Trees for Troops
New York National Guard airmen and soldiers volunteered their time to fill up a delivery truck with donated Christmas trees bound for military families at the Ellms Family Farm here, Nov. 27.
This is the 13th year that the National Guard troops turned out alongside veterans and Patriot Guard Riders to assist in the nationwide Trees for Troops initiative.
According to its website, the Patriot Guard Riders is a nonprofit volunteer organization, which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.
Some three dozen volunteers were on hand to support the packing of trees with donated decorations and loading them for shipment.
A `Little Slice of Home`
"Having that little slice of home is a great reminder of how much the home front cares," said Chip Ellms, owner of the tree farm and coordinator of the event.
Approximately 150 trees donated by 15 local tree farms in upstate New York were loaded onto a FedEx truck headed to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where they will be distributed to military families.
The Ellms family grows almost 800 trees per acre on 50 acres on the farm north of Albany. The operation stated in 1983 and has grown to become a year-round tourism attraction.
The Ellms trees added to more than 200,000 trees donated since 2005 by the national program of the Christmas Spirit Foundation, in partnership with FedEx. The partnership delivers farm-grown trees to U.S. military personnel and their families from all service branches stationed at more than 60 bases worldwide.
Many of the National Guard volunteers have previously deployed during the holidays and spoke about the impact that this kind of event can have on a deployed soldier or airman.
Air Force Airman 1st Class John Lawlor, a medical technician assigned to the 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, part of the 109th Airlift Wing at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, New York, knows firsthand what it`s like to be without a family member on Christmas.
`People Truly do Care`
"My whole life, my father has been away every year so it hits close to home for me. People truly do care," he said.
Lawlor`s father, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Lawlor, is also assigned to the 109th Airlift Wing, and has deployed annually as part of the support of Operation Deep Freeze to Antarctica. The mission coincides with the holiday season every year.
Among the other volunteers was Edward Czuchrey, a Patriot Guard Rider and retired Air Force master sergeant.
"I think it`s a wonderful thing these folks do for the veterans; we do anything we can to help," Czuchrey said.
The trees were packed with holiday decorations and cards made by children from the local Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake elementary and middle schools.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia