Legion Auxiliary faces end of its proud Christmas tree tradition

Rose-Harms group forced to abandon holiday project for soldiers due to rising costs

ROSE-HARMS AUXILIARY CHAPLAIN LINDA BROWN (top photo) held a pair of miniature Christmas trees to be sent to soldiers overseas during the holiday season. Bottom photo, Auxiliary members assembled 700 trees last month. The organization has been producing the trees for soldiers for five years but is ending its initiative due to shipping costs and tariffs. Photos by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

During the past five years, members of the Rose-Harms American Legion Auxiliary Post 355 in Grafton have assembled thousands of miniature Christmas trees for soldiers overseas, but the rising cost of producing and shipping the creations has most likely ended the charitable tradition. 

Last month, about 20 Auxiliary members met at the Legion hall to make about 700 trees that will be shipped to active service men and women around the world in December.

Auxiliary Chaplain Linda Brown, who organizes the Christmas trees for troops initiative, said that the group made 1,800 trees the previous year.

“You can see the decline, and people are not giving what they usually do,” Brown said. 

In January, a nonprofit organization that produces the material for the trees, Trees From Home in Whitefish Bay, notified Brown that it will no longer carry the material due to the rising costs for shipping and tariffs with China.

Brown said it costs $10 to produce and ship a tree. The Auxiliary typically received a couple of thousand dollars in donations for the project.

“They informed us last year that it would be coming to an end because of money,” Brown said. “The prices have gone sky high, and we can’t afford to do it any more.

“It’s pretty sad because the Christmas trees can have a major impact on our troops around the holiday season.”

Brown said Auxiliary units in Cedarburg and Saukville that also produce Christmas trees for soldiers are also affected.

Brown said she is planning other charitable ventures for military members and veterans to replace the Christmas tree drive.

“I’m going to have several projects on my plate, such as a quilting project for women veterans, writing a prayer book and a Christmas project for shut-in members of our unit,” she said. “I’m not going to sit down.” 

For more information on how to support  Auxiliary projects, call Brown at 268-8296. 

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