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Live Christmas trees for troops soon coming free to Fort Leonard Wood

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Nov. 20, 2010) — Post personnel have a message for people planning post-Thanksgiving shopping: If you want to put your presents under a live Christmas tree, please wait.

“Most people go out right after Thanksgiving and purchase their tree, so please get the word out to your folks to just wait a little while. We will have beautiful fantastic trees live, absolutely free for those who wish to pick them up,” said Megan O’Donoghue of Fort Leonard Wood’s Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Trees will be available beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the Auto Craft Shop on post, and until Dec. 15 are available only to active duty servicemembers and their spouses. Remaining trees will be available to all authorized patrons at Fort Leonard Wood beginning Dec. 15.

The trees are sponsored by the Christmas Spirit Foundation, which is the charitable branch of the National Christmas Tree Foundation.

O’Donoghue said she knows not everybody wants a large live tree in their home.

“We have everything from little tiny Charlie Brown trees to great big Douglas firs; they’re absolutely beautiful,” O’Donoghue said. “This is a fantastic program; we are once again going to get 500-plus trees available for free for our active duty servicemembers and families.”

Trees can be picked up from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Fridays. Those are the standard hours for the Auto Craft Shop.

Those who want to see an even larger Christmas tree can attend the annual lighting ceremony of the Fort Leonard Wood Christmas Tree in the Joint Services Park, which runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Events include live entertainment, activities for family and children, and holiday traditions from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Canada, and France, along with photo opportunities with both Santa and the Gingerbread Man, and an “ugly sweater contest” with pictures taken and posted online so people can vote on their choice for ugliest sweater.

Janet Williams of the post’s Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation said the event will be “bigger and better this year” with the international theme.

“Each person will come through and they’ll get a passport and they’ll get it stamped by the different countries that they’ll be representing,” Williams said.

Asked whether the international visitors will include a certain red-suited ambassador from the North Pole, Williams avoided an answer.

“That’s a surprise, I can’t tell,” Williams said. “Have you been good? If you’ve been good he might show up.”

The post is also holding a non-denominational German Christmas worship service on Sunday, Dec. 12, which is held at 3 p.m. at Soldier Memorial Chapel on Iowa Avenue and is open to the public, with a social gathering featuring German stollen and gluehwein at the fellowship hall in Building 590 across Iowa Avenue. Pfarrer Friedrich Rieke, the German Protestant Chaplain from Fort Bliss, will be coming from Texas to conduct the service.

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