Do you have $25 you can spare right now? Would you like to send a live Christmas tree over to one of the young men and women in our military? You can do that here.
It's www.operationchristmastree.com. It also looks to have been formed by one family wanting to send their kid a tree years ago that has morphed into a 501(C)3 organization as a result. A local idea germinated by one family's desire to give their child a little slice of home while stationed in a war zone.
It’s the upside to the internet and the phenomenon of social networks. A family I have known for 15 years put up a blurb on Facebook and the connections start. The connections in my head of kids I have known, and the internet connections enabling me to do something about it.
A son of the family whose Facebook blurb triggered this was on several sports teams with my oldest son. I coached football with the father, with our sons on the team. These parents and I were actively involved in the football organization beyond just coaching.
The blurb was referencing another family I do not know well. Their son is stationed in Afghanistan. That young man -- called "O'Go" by his friends in high school that will come clear as to why if you read his mother's comment below -- was a very close friend of my oldest son. The two of them were defenseman on the lacrosse team together. They learned a two sport all star was going to try out for Lacrosse and play defense, so the two of them realized their playing time was going to get dinged. The two decided they would each try out for goalie, instead. The better goalie would stay there.
And so my son became the goalie, and O'Go remained on defense. My son gained considerable notoriety as a result. O'Go was happy for my son and content, which says a lot about the boy’s character.
So reading the Facebook blurb about Christmas trees for troops, and knowing it was for O'Go who had been in and out of my home over the years prompted me to click around. O'Go's mom seeks to drum up enough for his entire 80 person unit.
The core operation has a goal of 1,800, with under 300 donated as of this writing.
I have a few soldiers like that who have come in and out of my life as friends of my children and as kids I coached in youth sports and came to know. Christmas in a war zone, no matter how calm, has to be a tough thing.
I do not have firsthand experience worrying about a child serving in the military. My middle son came very close to enlisting out of high school. While respecting the hell out of those who serve, I was still terrified on a parental level. It was hugely conflicting. So while I say I can empathize, I truly do not know what that must be like, either as the parent of the soldier or as the soldier.
Many often joke that Christmas promotions and pleas happen earlier and earlier and that the commercialization of it all has gotten out of hand. I agree with that.
But the logistics associated with shipping live trees half way around the world to the men and women in our military requires a cut off point of November 22nd to be accomplished. The weblink indicates the process started on August 30th.
Forget the politics of war. Forget the rhetoric of war and "support for the troops." Simply focus on that personal level. A personal level that hit me in the gut checking my Facebook page, seeing something from one family I have known for years, and seeing it was about O'Go who had been a close friend of my oldest son's whom I had not seen or thought about for quite some time but respected and admired for his maturity as a sophomore in high school.
It’s $25 to send a live tree to a kid perhaps away from their family on Christmas for the first time in their lives serving in our military.
Please give it some consideration.
Update: Please be sure to check out the comment left by O'Go's mom. It confirms what I had thought. This is O'Go's second tour of duty since graduating high school and enlisting.