MILTON, Ga. -- Every year, families gather around their Christmas tree to open gifts. For some families, a tree can be a gift in itself.
This year, thousands of U.S. military troops and their families will receive donated Christmas trees through a program called Trees For Troops.
"They're fighting for our freedom and the least we can do is buy a tree for a family," Brett Gerber told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh.
The Gerber family is among dozens of metro Atlanta families who come to Hunter's Tree Farm in Milton to buy a tree for service men and women.
Farm owner Gordon Hunter has been selling trees on his farm for 20 years. Five years ago, he began giving customers the option of donating them through Trees for Troops.
"My generation from the Vietnam War wasn't quite met with that much approval,” Hunter said. “So it's nice to give our veterans some real public approval of what they've been doing and their sacrifices."
The process starts with families picking out a tree and filling out a card. The cards are tied onto the trees like ornaments with personal messages of thanks. Workers then cut them, wrap them, and the trees are shipped to military bases or military families.
Hunter shipped his farm’s trees to Tampa’s Macdill Airforce Base on Dec. 6, but donations to the program can always be made at www.christmasspiritfoundation.org.
This season, the program’s trees will reach about 20,000 troops.
"And I hope it brings a little smile on their face,” Hunter’s wife said.