Four Jewish veterans marked the first day of Chanukah in 2021 by performing a mitzvah, volunteering to help fellow veterans and service members of the New York National Guard to load donated Christmas Trees at Ellms Tree Farm in Ballston Spa, New York on November 29.
The JWV members from Albany Post 105 helped load 110 donated Christmas trees onto a truck for delivery to military bases around the country to support military families this holiday season as part of the Trees for Troops program.
The program has been ongoing for 17 years, said Richard Goldenberg, the JWV Capital District Council Commander.
Goldenberg began volunteering in 2006 following his return from a combat deployment to Iraq with the Army National Guard.
“The holiday season, when deployed far from home, can be especially difficult for military families,” Goldenberg said, “whether it is lighting candles for Hanukkah or gathering around a Christmas tree.”
The donated trees are a reminder of home, no matter your faith, he said. The trees provide a sight and smell of life back at home and remind troops that they are not forgotten when so far away.
“It amazes me, each and every year to see the support of our local tree farmers and the turnout to help load these trees,” said Garth Ellms, the third-generation owner of Ellms Family Farm, the collection site for regional tree farms.
Trees for Troops was launched in 2005, and with the help of FedEx Corp., has delivered more than a quarter million Christmas Trees to U.S. military bases at home and overseas.
The local effort is a reflection of JWV supporting veterans of all faiths, explained Gene Altman, the JWV Schenectady Post 106 Commander. He said it is a way of showing our support to all military families.
Supporting the mitzvah effort at Ellms Family Farm were Altman, Goldenberg, Gary Hoffmann, and Dan Tilsner.
Volume 75. Number 4. 2021