By Matt Reese

The Reese Children supporting Operation Evergreen and gaining valuable life lessons.

The Reese Children supporting Operation Evergreen and gaining valuable life lessons.

Life is not all about “me.” Life is about serving others — not ourselves — and agriculture has a unique way of teaching this key value.

An attitude of service always seems to be a bit more prevalent in rural agricultural areas (at least to me). The act of caring for the soil, tending to animals and producing products for others on the farm has a way of weaving itself into your moral code and instilling a willingness to serve others.

My wife and I are already trying to use lessons on the farm to teach our young children about the value of service to others. With this in mind, I tried to involve both of our children in the Operation Evergreen program this year. Each year to commemorate Veteran’s Day, veterans come out to our family Christmas tree farm and select trees that will be sent to troops overseas with the hope of providing a bit of holiday cheer so far from home. It combines two important holidays that highlight the value and importance of an attitude of service.

Area veterans select Christmas trees from the farm to cut for the program. Local elementary students, high school students and community groups also visited the farm yesterday to present the ornaments they have made to the veterans. There were nearly 3,000 ornaments brought to the farm.

Among those veterans who visit the farm is my grandpa Frank Deeds, who served in World War II in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. It is hard for me to comprehend what grandpa went through as a young man those many years ago and it is vital that we show him, and the rest of the veterans who have sacrificed so much through the years, our appreciation. Hopefully I can learn from grandpa’s example of service and my children can learn from me.

The trees and ornaments from Christmas tree farms around the state go to the Ohio Department of Agriculture where they will be inspected this week, shipped to Kuwait and then on to wherever else U.S. troops are serving. The Operation Evergreen program was started in Ohio in 1995 to bring a little Christmas cheer to military personnel serving overseas. This Ohio Christmas Tree Association project has grown from 30 trees the first year to over 300 in recent years.

All of the trees, boxes, ornaments, tree stands, packaging and assembly, transportation and shipping overseas are donated. And, while corporate funding has covered the high shipping costs in the past, the OCTA is covering (and seeking donations for) the shipping.

For more on Operation Evergreen, contact Amy Galehouse at Galehouse Tree Farms at 330-658-2480 or galehousetreefarms@bright.net or the OCTA office at 740-828-3331orval@ohiochristmastree.com.