It’s been just about a year since Gabriella Bucci and Anthony Salmeri enlisted in the New York Air National Guard.

“I just want to continue the family legacy of being in the Air Force,” said Bucci who holds the rank Airman first class (A1C). “My entire family is just military so I’ve got to keep it going.”

What You Need To Know

  • On Monday at Ellms Family Farm  local volunteers loaded more than 100 Christmas trees onto a FedEx Truck so they can be delivered to U.S. military bases around the world

  • Over the past 15 years the national Trees For Troops program has delivered nearly 250,000 trees to American military bases

  • Since the program began, Ellms Family Farm in Saratoga County has been the local collection point for the Christmas trees

“I love what I do and I just look forward to the future in the career field,” said Salmeri a fellow A1C. “It’s something I always wanted to do.”

On Monday morning, the mission for the two airmen from Saratoga County was simple: Help load more than 100 Christmas trees onto the back of a FedEx truck so they can be shipped to U.S. military bases around the world.

“It felt good because one person can contribute and they have a lot of hands total, so it makes a bigger difference,” said Bucci, who grew up in Burnt Hills.

“This year obviously has not been a great year with COVID and everything else going on, so I figured for me personally it was the least I could do to just give a helping hand where I can,” Salmeri said.

As usual, Ellms Family Farm in Burnt Hills was this year’s local collection point for the Trees for Troops program. Over the past 15 years, the national organization has delivered almost a quarter million trees to American military bases.

“It’s a big deal because for the military members here in the Capital Region, it is a way for us to pay it forward,” New York Army National Guard Colonel Richard Goldenberg said.

One of Monday’s volunteers, Goldenberg said he spent one holiday season away from his family while serving in Kuwait during the Iraq war.

“Everything was brown, everything was hot and it was clearly not like a holiday season in any type of view,” Goldenberg recalled. “But having the decorations and seeing the facilities we had decorated for the holiday spirit it was just a tremendous reminder that the hometown America and the Capital Region had not forgotten us.”

For the young airmen and women helping load the truck, knowing their efforts will help fellow service members feel a sense of home during the holidays is something to be proud of.

“I know when I was in basic training we did not have phones or anything like that, so just receiving a letter from my family was something that I was looking forward to,” said Salmeri, who grew up in Clifton Park. “Something like this where they are getting a tree, anything like that helps and it definitely helps raise morale.”