The annual “Trees for Troops” program for locals to purchase a Christmas tree for servicemen and women has officially begun at the Brumby and White Christmas Tree Farm.
This is owners Mike Brumby and J.H. White’s sixth year participating in the program.
Trees for Troops is a national effort that started many years ago and then spread, Brumby said. He stated that the first year he and White were contacted by the Georgia Christmas Tree Association, they pledged to do 25 trees — that number has grown to 150.
According to Greg Smith, president of the Georgia Christmas Tree Association and director of Trees for Troops, a total of 1,200 trees from Christmas tree farms in Georgia have been pledged for donation.
During an interview Tuesday morning at Mi-Lady Bakery, Brumby, along with Wayne Duffell with the local American Legion Post 21 and his wife, Ann Duffell with the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 21, and Bill Brookerd with Pinecrest Baptist Church in Cordele, discussed the first day of pick up and delivery, as well as provided some information about Trees for Troops.
The tree farm sells the 6-7-foot Christmas trees for $25. Those who purchase the trees are encouraged to sign a card with a personal message that is included with each tree and also sign a banner to encourage the servicemen and women and their families. Brumby said currently, 65 trees have been purchased for troops and their families.
People can pay or make any donations by visiting the Christmas tree farm at 808 Chula-Brookfield Road or by mailing it to P.O. Box 1554, Tifton, Ga. 31793 with your message. Make checks payable to Trees for Troops.
The Christmas trees will be freshly cut at 8 a.m. for the first delivery on Friday, Dec. 7 (Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day). Volunteers can show up at the farm that morning to help. Brumby said it's a fun day. The trees will be loaded up at about 10 a.m. and then will be delivered to the armories in Tifton, Americus, Cordele, Macon and Forsyth. The second pick up is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 14.
Brookerd noted that all of the Christmas trees will be going to E-5 soldiers and below in the Georgia Army National Guard units.
He said the delivery of the trees became the largest problem of the program. Therefore, in 2010, Pinecrest Baptist Church (PBC) became aware of the delivery problems and offered to help with transporting the trees. He stated that Tinie Stringfield, coordinator for the Georgia Army National Guard Family Readiness, coordinated the pick up and delivery of the trees for the 48th Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard. In 2010 and 2011, volunteers from PBC, with their vehicles and trailers, delivered trees to the five Georgia Army National Guard units in the 48th Brigade.
This is the church’s second year volunteering with the Brumby and White Christmas Tree Farm to pick up and deliver trees to the five units. However, they have been involved in the program for three years. Brookerd said he would like other churches in the area to get involved with the program. He noted that 100 percent of the money go towards supporting military groups.
Brookerd also stated that PBC has a functioning military committee, which is very supportive and plans and coordinates fun activities for their local soldiers. Each year, since 2006, they host a fish fry for families of their local Georgia Army National Guard unit. This year, the event will be held at 1:30 p.m. (meal will be served at 4 p.m.) Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Lions Park in Cordele. The Cordele Lions Club has partnered with PBC and freely provides their facility.
He noted that anyone who is interested in helping with their efforts in supporting local troops can contact Karen Mathis, the church’s secretary, at 273-1261. Dr. Mason Davis is the pastor.
Also, Duffell and his wife have been involved in the Trees for Troops program for more than a year. Duffell said the American Legion Post 21 look forward to it every year. This is their third year participating. They purchased five trees ($125). He noted that their motto is: “Veterans supporting veterans”.
Ann said this is the auxiliary’s fourth year participating in the program. She stated that this involvement came about after one day when she was speaking with Brumby about her son and Christmas trees came up in the conversation. The auxiliary’s first year, they purchased five trees and 10 trees the second year. Last year, they purchased 15 trees, and this year, they purchased 20 trees ($500).
Ann stated that this is one way the auxiliary supports veterans and their families. With her being a mother and grandmother, she said to know a child is not going to have a Christmas tree is heartbreaking. She added that each year, God has blessed their organization to do well with various events for veterans, such as being able to purchase more trees for those children who may not otherwise have a tree for Christmas.
“I challenge all veteran organizations to match our 25 total,” Duffell stated, adding that he and Ann, as well as other American Legion Post 21 members, plan to help load the trees Dec. 7.
Ann added that she would like to thank Brumby and White for bringing the Trees for Troops program to the local area, which has given them a chance to reach veterans and give their children good memories to cherish.
Also, Duffell and Ann noted that the American Legion Post 21 and the auxiliary each give out an Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College scholarship.
The Christmas tree farm is open from noon until dark Monday through Friday; from 10 a.m. until dark on Saturdays; and from 1 p.m. until dark on Sundays.
For more information about volunteering or donating, call the farm at 382-3072 or Brumby at 382-7515.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.