November 30, 2015 - 3:13pm -- sherman.1473@osu.edu

By Bradford Sherman

OSU Extension - Jackson County

One special tree’s journey will take it thousands of miles away and halfway around the globe this holiday season, in order to lift the spirits of our servicemen and women.

Jackson Rotarians, 4-H Junior Leaders, and Apsley Family Christmas Trees have partnered to send a majestic Canaan Fir Christmas tree, along with special handcrafted ornaments, to members of the United States military currently stationed overseas through a service initiative known as Project Evergreen.

Introduced in the mid 1990’s by the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, the purpose of Operation Evergreen is to bring a little Christmas cheer to military personnel serving overseas and honoring them for the job they perform. The project has grown since its inception, when 29 trees were shipped, to more than 300 today.

“Considering the sacrifices our servicemen and women make – this is just a small token of appreciation that we can extend to them,” said Rotarian Dave Samples. The Rotary Club is covering the $160 cost of shipping the tree to the troops.

The tree began its long journey November 13. It was boxed along with more than 60 ornaments that were handcrafted by Jackson County 4-H members. The 4-H Junior Leaders Club, a group of 4-H teens who participate in programs throughout the year, took on the task of crafting the special ornaments.

“I really enjoyed being a part of it,” said 4-H member Chase Dickens. “It was nice to know you were helping spread joy to our brave servicemen and women, and making something that will stretch far beyond the borders of Jackson County.”

Jackson County 4-H Youth Development Educator Erin Dailey said she was proud to see her local 4-H teens take part in such a meaningful project.

“It was a wonderful learning experience for our 4-H youth to be able to work on a project that truly makes an impact,” Dailey stated. “It allows them to think about the many sacrifices, such as spending the holidays away from loved ones, that military families make every day.”

Apsley Family Christmas Trees, in association with the Ohio Christmas Tree Growers Association, supplied the 7-foot-tall tree.

“We are just glad to be a small part of such a wonderful program once again this year,” said Dave Apsley, whose tree farm has also supplied trees to other groups for Project Evergreen the last several years.

To learn more about Project Evergreen, or to learn how you can help donate to the cause, visit OhioChristmasTree.org.