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Volunteer group sends Christmas trees to troops overseas

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WHITEFISH BAY (WITI) -- Trees From Home is celebrating five years of sending care packages to military personnel who can not be home over the holidays. The nonprofit group began this year's project in August and is wrapping things up Sunday, October 20th.

"We send Christmas trees to military personnel serving overseas," said Julie Stuhlmacher.

Stuhlmacher founded the organization after sending a decorated tree to her son, who was deployed in Iraq, back in 2003.

"He came home on leave and said 'mom, that's the best thing we got while we were here,'" said Stuhlmacher.

After realizing the need, Stuhlmacher developed Trees From Home, building her organization with the help of volunteers.

"Christmas is the time where everyone wants to be at home and so many military personnel don't even have families that send packages, aren't able to, or don't have families. We try to reach those men and women," Stuhlmacher explained.

Volunteer and veteran Jerry Hill says he believes the creations are morale boosters.

"It's a great joy to come up here and create something that may bring happiness and a thank you to our troops," said Hill.

Goody bags are also sent with the trees. Inside, three Christmas cards are included for troops to send back to family or friends, as they have no way to buy them overseas.

Stuhlmacher says her mission is important because of the sacrifices military personnel are making.

"They volunteer. They don't have to do it, so being able to give back to these brave men and women that put their lives at risk makes a big difference," said Stuhlmacher.

Every year, packages are sent on a special day by a special group of people.

"11/11/13 is the day these boxes get shipped out and it's Veterans Day. The post office is closed -- they open just for us. Two of their great employees volunteer to come in and help us," Stuhlmacher said.

Over the past five years the organization has sent out more than 10,000 Christmas trees and care packages.

CLICK HERE to find out how you can become a part of Trees From Home.

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