An area source of holiday cheer spread the Christmas spirit far beyond the borders of Franklin County this month.

Memory Lane, a Christmas tree farm owned by Harry and Juanita Peckham and located in Rantoul, was involved in the 2019 Trees for Troops project, which saw the distribution of 18,112 Christmas trees to military families on 75 bases across the United States. These trees were donated by Christmas Tree growers and their customers, and FedEx trucks were sent to the collection points to pick up the trees and deliver them to the military bases. FedEx is a partner in the Trees for Troops program and donates the delivery services annually.

Harry Peckham, coordinator for the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association, solicited the tree donations from other growers and organized the pickup location with the Christmas Spirit Foundation, the group that operates the Trees for Troops program. Harry assisted in organizing a tree pickup location in the Wichita area.

In addition to coordinating donations, Harry also collects trees from the eastern Kansas area and takes them to the pickup location himself. This usually occurs at the presentation of a Christmas tree to the Governor’s Mansion by the Kansas Christmas Tree Growers Association.

In addition to soliciting trees from growers, Harry solicits tree donations from area businesses. This year Bienie’s Body Shop, Midwest Engraving, Dr. Burks DDS, The Gun Guys, Wellsville Chamber of Commerce, KanEquip, McConnell Machinery and Beckman Motors all purchased trees to donate to Trees for Troops.

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Christmas Spirit Foundation, Harry works to support the program year round. He and Juanita created a Trees for Troops bear that they sell to support the program — an eight-inch teddy bear in a military uniform with numbered dog tag. Harry and Juanita travel to several Christmas tree grower meetings each summer to promote Trees for Troops and sell the bears to growers to resell at their gift shops.