El Dorado County Christmas trees reach troops in Iraq | TahoeDailyTribune.com

El Dorado County Christmas trees reach troops in Iraq

Gregory Crofton
Lt. Elizabeth DiCampli, front left, works in the 115th Field Hospital at the Abu Graib Prison, which is 20 miles west of Baghdad. DiCampli poses with members of her company and the Christmas tree they received from El Dorado County.

A small Christmas tree doesn’t have too much value in the United States, but when the smell of silver-tip firs from El Dorado County comes out of a box in Iraq, it’s priceless.

“I can’t tell you how much it means to me,” wrote Sgt. Amy Feather, a county resident serving with the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq, who said she immediately put the tree up in her room and decorated it.

“I’ve only spent one other Christmas away from home in my 25 years, so this makes it a little easier and a lot happier,” she wrote to county officials. “Happy holidays to you all. Thank you!”

The idea to send trees from El Dorado County to troops overseas came from Carl Borelli, a former Marine who served as mayor of Placerville and a county supervisor. He died of viral pneumonia last year.

Borelli was a friend of Larry and Geri Hyder, who own Indian Rock Tree Farm in Camino.

“The first year we furnished the trees goes back to the Vietnam era,” said Larry Hyder, who served in with the Army in Korea in the 1950s. “We get all kinds of absolutely wonderful responses. One woman said she just sat down and cried. Another guy said that he must have the only Christmas tree in Iraq. He didn’t know we sent other trees to Iraq.”

This year the Hyders, with support from the El Dorado County Christmas Tree Growers, sent 80 trees to county residents overseas in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.

The silver tip trees – known to have strong branches that hold their needles well – were sent at the end of November along with ornaments from the Boys and Girls Club, candy canes, fudge and a Christmas note from the Board of Supervisors.

“It’s a real honor for the board to be able to provide a little bit of a Christmastime reminder from home,” said Supervisor Dave Solaro. “We hope the spirit of Christmas makes their duty seem a little more appreciated during the holiday season.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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