NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops

US Army | Nov. 30, 2021

By Col. Richard Goldenberg, New York National Guard

NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
 New York National volunteers help load 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021 for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. More than 15 volunteers from the New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)

 
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Jason Wells, assigned to the New York National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, passes a tree up to Sgt. Hunter Bates, another volunteer assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, as they load 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021 for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. More than 15 volunteers from the New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Mark Mertzlufft, assigned to the National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Logistics Directorate, passes a tree up to Sgt. Angelo Migliore, another volunteer assigned to 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade Headquarters, as they load 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021, for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. More than 15 volunteers from the New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tyler Center, assigned to the National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Logistics Directorate, prepares a tree for loading with 15 other volunteers for the shipment of 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021, for delivery to the military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. The New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
New York Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class David Travers, assigned to the Joint Force Headquarters, passes a tree up to Sgt. Hunter Bates, another volunteer assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, as they load 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021, for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. More than 15 volunteers from the New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
 Retired New York Army National Guard Command Sgt. Major Bob Van Pelt, a volunteer from the Capital District Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army, holds a tree for Sally Ellms to pack holiday greetings prepared by Ballston Spa School District schoolchildren, as they load 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021 for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. More than 15 volunteers from the New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)
NY National Guard volunteers support Trees for Troops
New York Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Tyler Center, assigned to the National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Logistics Directorate, center, walks back for an additional tree as 15 other volunteers from the National Guard lend their support for the shipment of 110 donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, N.Y., November 29, 2021, for delivery to military bases around the country to support troops and military families this holiday season. The New York Army and Air National Guard joined Capital District area veterans to help load trees. This marks the 17th year of military members volunteering their time to assist in the loading of trees destined for fellow service members and their families. (Photo Credit: Col. Richard Goldenberg)

BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. – Fifteen New York National Guard volunteers joined veterans at Ellms Tree Farm on Nov. 29 to load 110 Christmas trees as part of the Trees for Troops program.

New York National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have been loading the donated trees to give to military families and deployed troops for 17 years.

“It amazes me each and every year to see the support of our local tree farmers and the turnout of the military to help load these trees,” said Garth Ellms, the third-generation owner of Ellms Family Farm.

Ellms Family Farms serves as a collection site for Christmas trees donated by tree farmers in the Albany area.

Nationally, Trees for Troops has delivered a total of 262,265 real trees in the past 16 years. More than 16,000 trees were donated in 2020.

This year, trees will be delivered to 77 military bases, including Fort Drum and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in New York.

The Trees for Troops program was launched in 2005, when FedEx Corp., delivered more than 4,300 Christmas trees to five U.S. military bases, as well as an overseas shipment to the Middle East.

“It was a long time ago for me, but deploying over the holidays is always a difficult time,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Wells of the New York Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “Having a tree was like having a piece of home.”

The Ellms Family Farm collects fresh-cut Christmas trees before pick up by Trees for Troops partners and FedEx Freight. The trees are routed through distribution centers for delivery to military bases.

Volunteers from the National Guard, both new and old, turned out to load trees to show their support for others serving away from home during the holiday season.

“I didn’t really know much about this before,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Mertzlufft, who is assigned to the National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Logistics Directorate. “But I was deployed last year and was able to return home in time for the holidays. It feels good helping out, sending trees to those deployed this year.”

This year, there are two Albany-area New York National Guard elements deployed over the holidays.

Members of the Air National Guard’s 109th Airlift Wing, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, are supporting the National Science Foundation’s Operation Deep Freeze research in Antarctica.

Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the 501st Ordnance Battalion, an explosive ordnance disposal headquarters also based in Scotia, are in Kuwait supporting operations in the Middle East.

“Those troops serving far from home and family are the reason we do this, Ellms said. “Especially around Christmas, it’s important for us to continue doing this for them.”

“This is my first time participating,” said Staff Sgt. Tyler Center, a member of the Joint Force Headquarters logistics section. “My wife is currently deployed with the 501st EOD, and I thought this would be a great way to show some support.”

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