By Robert Blechl
BETHLEHEM — For nearly two decades, The Rocks Estate has been hosting the annual tagging and loading of Trees For Troops.
Beginning in the second year, Bethlehem Elementary School fifth-graders have taken the lead in tagging the several hundred Christmas brought to the estate from donating tree farms in New Hampshire and Vermont and in loading them onto a tractor-trailer from FedEx, which each year ships them to a different military base.
From there, the trees are sent to servicemen and women across the nation to brighten their holidays.
In 2020, though, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BES students, who in past years have fund-raised and collected donations from local businesses, couldn’t participate.
This year, under a snow-flurried sky on Wednesday morning, they were back in action for the 16th annual loading of the Trees For Troops and were given a warm welcome by New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Commissioner Shawn Jasper.
“This is really a great event, very special,” said Jasper. “Our troops are obviously very important to us as a nation and you’re going to really help give them some real Christmas cheer. You guys are the heroes coming out here today and doing this work. Thank you very much.”
He also thanked the growers and sponsors who make it happen, especially during a year that still brought some challenges.
“There is still a good number of donations,” said Jasper.