Major General Marvin Barry spent most of his adult life in the Air Force, and he said one of the toughest times for soldiers is Christmas.

"Christmas season means so much to all of us," he said, before commenting about the sad faces of military members who can't be home with their families.

"There are only a few things that can make it even tolerable," he said, adding that letters from home and other greetings from family members are a big help.

He also said the "Trees for Troops" program helps.

"It shows that the folks at home have them in their hearts," he said.

Barry spoke at the Trees for Troops weekend kickoff on Friday at Yenser's Tree Farm in Mahoning Township. Dennis Yenser, an owner of the farm, said nearly 300 trees were collected for military members and their families.

This is the fifth year that Yenser's and other Carbon County Christmas tree growers have participated in the Trees for Troops program. Dennis and his brother, Drew, are the coordinators of the Carbon event.

Drew Yenser said when the program began in 2005, local tree growers sent some trees overseas. The trees are transported by FedEx, which donates trucks and drivers to transport the trees.

Last year, Yenser said, there were 1,200 to 1,500 trees donated just from tree growers in Pennsylvania.

This year, the public had more involvement and were able to donate trees at various tree farms in the area participating in the program.

In addition, Yenser is providing a 10 percent discount to military personnel with a current military ID card and a 20 percent discount to any military family that has a member serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Three school groups made donations to the program. They are Shull-David Elementary School in Lehighton, Lehighton Middle School, and L. B. Morris School in Jim Thorpe. Donations were also given by Nesquehoning VFW and Lehighton Ford.

The L.B. Morris School presented a check for $1,035 while Shull-David sold more than two dozen trees.