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Christmas spirit warms hearts

Christmas spirit warms hearts

Source: by Nondice Powell, Courier staff

Christmas Spirit Warms the Heart

Fort Campbell Courier, 11 December 2008

Christmas spirit warms hearts

FedEx delivers holiday cheer

by Nondice Powell, Courier staff

Cold weather couldn’t stop the warmth of the holiday spirit as real Christmas trees were handed out to Soldiers at Fort Campbell. Seven hundred trees arrived Dec. 3 as part of the Christmas Spirit Foundation and FedEx’s Trees for Troops program. Soldiers and their families picked up the trees over the past week.

“It’s cold, but it’s nice to be helping out the community,” said Pfc. Taylor Borges. Borges and several other 20th Replacement Soldiers arrived at Fort Campbell just before Thanksgiving and were among those helping families pick out and load their Christmas trees.

After being nominated, Soldiers and their families had to bring a ticket provided to them by their unit in order to pick up a tree. Among those nominated were Pfc. Kevin Shin, 160th Special Operations Command, his wife Ashley and their 11-month-old son Kyle.

“This is amazing,” said Kevin. “It’s outstanding; anything to help out the Soldiers.”

The Shins felt the donated tree would help make their son’s first Christmas even more special.

“It’s a tremendous help for them to provide these for us,” said Kevin. “We can enjoy Christmas and have a little bit more money for our son to buy him something for his first Christmas.”

Four-year-old Logan Papazian didn’t let the cold stop him from helping his parents, Amanda and Staff Sgt. Russell Papazian, Headquarters and Headquarters Company 101st, Combat Aviation Brigade. They came to find a tree for his two brothers and him. Logan dove straight into the trees and climbed through looking for that perfect one in the back of the pile.

“When Dad’s not home, we don’t get a real tree,” said Amanda. “It’s awesome. This is a nice thing they do for people; very sweet.”

Logan tried to go back for another tree after helping his dad, who returned from deployment about a month ago, load the tree into their truck. He had to be reminded they only get one.

Nicole Fischer, with the Christmas Spirit Foundation, looked on and talked with families as they picked up their trees.

“I’ve been to quite a few base deliveries,” said Fischer. “This is my second year at Fort Campbell. I’ve seen quite a few families receive their trees. It’s always neat. It puts people in the holiday and Christmas spirit and that’s part of the reason we do it.”

In addition to the trees donated by Christmas tree growers, some trees are bought by individuals. Individuals are able to buy trees at select locations that will be added to the ones donated. One family that bought a tree when she attended an event in Fort Lewis, Washington stood out to Fischer.

“This guy and his little daughter, she was probably less than 3-years-old came up to give me some money for a tree,” said Fischer. “He said ‘tell her where Mommy is’ and she said ‘Mommy’s in Afghanistan.’ It was just heartbreaking; this little 3-year-old is here with her dad without her mom.”

For many of the families at Fort Campbell, though, the holidays are being spent with loved ones just arriving home, helping to add a bit of cheer.

“It makes it easier,” said Helen Marsch. “We get a real tree this year.”

Her husband, Sgt. Russell Marsch, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, recently returned home. Their 2-year-old son, Landon, sat in the car still not so sure about Christmas as Soldiers from the 20th replacement helped load the tree on top of his car.

The Trees for Troops program has helped spread holiday cheer to service members around the world since its inception in 2005. Only 4,300 trees were delivered to five bases the first year. This year more than 16,000 trees are anticipated for delivery.

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