Columbus -- Dozens of Ohio-grown Christmas trees are heading to military bases overseas, thanks to growers, veterans groups, schools and others who support the state's annual Operation Evergreen effort.
It's a little piece of home for the military men and women who will be on the job -- and away from families -- over the holidays.
"We do it for the troops," said Amy Galehouse, owner and general manager of Galehouse Tree Farms in Doylestown, who coordinates the effort. " If you live overseas and you're far away from home and family, it's just important. One of our members said a long time ago, when he got those cookies [while serving] in Korea, he didn't care if they were in crumbs, they were from home."
Galehouse and others involved in the effort were in suburban Columbus Nov. 15 at the Ohio Department of Agriculture headquarters preparing about 100 trees for shipment to bases in Kuwait.
Trees have been shipped in mid-November annually for more than 20 years, with hopes that they will arrive on bases around Thanksgiving.
It costs $90 to $160 or more to ship each one, and the effort is covered by donations of Ohio Christmas Tree Association members and community members (details on how to donate can be found online at OhioChristmasTree.org).
The American Legion in Doyelstown and others have chipped in to cover shipping costs.
This year, farms in Wayne, Mahoning, Trumbull and other counties provided the trees.
"They come from all over the state," Galehouse said.
Twinsberry Tree Farm in Shreve brought its tree baler, along with a truckload of trees that will make the trip overseas.
The mix included mostly Fraser Firs and white pines -- "We have to go for trees like that that we can fit into the boxes," said Scott Berry, from Twinsberry.
The trees are packed into long cardboard boxes, along with ornaments, decorations, cards and other items donated by school kids around the state.
Before they were packed Nov. 15, though, an Ohio Department of Agriculture inspector checked the trees to make sure they were free of disease and bugs.
Dan Kenny, assistant chief of the agency's division of plant health, said the inspections are required for the trees to get through the customs process overseas and ultimately delivered to the troops.
"We think it's a great program that the Ohio Christmas tree growers have organized here to send a little bit of a home feel to our troops overseas in the form of Ohio-grown Christmas trees," he said. "We're happy to help in that effort."
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at email@example.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.