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DelVal graduate spreads Christmas cheer to troops


From his family’s 106-year-old garden center and nursery, Tony Cerbo worked side-by-side with his family and others to send 300 Christmas trees to men and women serving in the military.

As part of Trees for Troops, a program begun by the Christmas Spirit Foundation in 2005, the Cerbos planted, grew and harvested 300 Norway spruce trees that were distributed to military families, both active and retired.

“We came across the program last year, but it was fairly late in the year, so we couldn’t do as much,” said Cerbo, who graduated from Delaware Valley University in 1984 with an ornamental horticulture degree. “This year we were able to donate 300 trees. We were so happy to hear about Trees for Troops,” he added, during a phone interview.

Cerbo, a third generation owner of the Branchville, N.J., business, said donation jars were set up across his community to support the effort, raising $9,000. FedEx partners with Trees for Troops and donates trailers to transport the holiday trees to bases in Georgia and Texas, Cerbo said.

Numerous volunteers, from firefighters, Scout troops and others, worked to harvest and load the trees. “It was magical,” Cerbo said, of everyone working together during a recent snowstorm.

And, he noted, the man who planted the trees eight years ago, was there to help load them into the trailers. Peter Klimek, who attended the Citadel and joined the U.S. Army, was able to see those same Christmas trees go to fellow servicemen and servicewomen.