SCHUMER REVEALS: SOLDIERS ABROAD MAY NOT GET THEIR CHRISTMAS TREES THIS YEAR; RED-RIBBON TAPE IS STOPPING U.S. POSTAL SERVICE FROM DELIVERING TREES; SENATOR DEMANDS FEDS IMMEDIATELY SHIP TREES & SAVE CHRISTMAS FOR SOLDIERS SERVING ABROAD
Schumer: Fed Policy That Blocks Shipping Christmas Trees Is Straight Out of The Grinch’s Playbook
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today urged United States Postal Service Postmaster General Megan Brennan to immediately waive any and all procedural changes that are preventing New Yorkers from sending donated Christmas trees to soldiers serving overseas. According to Schumer, this week dozens of donated Christmas trees in New York were returned to sender by the United States Postal Service. Schumer said this was the result of a last-minute policy change by a combination of federal agencies including the Department of Defense and the Department of State that strictly limits the size of packages that can be shipped to military bases abroad.
“Refusing to deliver donated Christmas trees to soldiers serving abroad is straight out of the Grinch’s playbook and flies in the face of Christmas spirit,” said Senator Schumer. “Each year, communities across New York come together to collect donations, package Christmas trees and ship them overseas to military bases far and wide to destinations like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany. This important tradition brings holiday spirit to our brave men and women, who are spending Christmas without their family. It is tragically un-American that this change was made right before Christmas, with little notice. That is why I am asking the federal bureaucracies to immediately come together to figure out how to get these trees back on Santa’s sleigh and delivered to our troops abroad before Christmas.”
According to Schumer, every year, farmers in New York State join forces with local community groups and charities to collect, package and ship Christmas trees during the holiday season to soldiers serving overseas. But this year the donated Christmas trees are being returned to sender. Schumer said this postal service change has resulted in dozens of Christmas trees being sent back to New York farms, rather than making their way to service members in time for Christmas.
In Schumer’s letter to the United States Postal Service Postmaster General Megan Brennan, Schumer said: “this is an important tradition, and is one that brings holiday cheer to brave members of the United States Armed Forces serving overseas.” In order to address this issue Schumer said, first, the Postal Service must immediately take action by working with the appropriate federal agencies to rectify the situation. Second, Schumer asked that a temporary waiver is granted to military-shipping size restrictions for Christmas trees so that in future years this same unfortunate situation does not occur and this valuable holiday tradition can continue.
Schumer’s letter appears below:
Dear Postmaster General Brennan:
I write to seek your immediate assistance in addressing an issue for members of the United States Armed Forces serving abroad. Each year farmers in New York work with their local community to collect donations and package and ship Christmas trees during the holiday season to soldiers serving overseas. This is an important tradition, and is one that brings holiday cheer to brave members of the United States Armed Forces serving overseas. Unfortunately, this year a number of those Christmas trees donated by local communities were returned to sender by the United States Postal Service, according to the farmers who received the returned trees. My understanding is that this is because of a last-minute policy change that severely limited the size of packages that can be shipped to military bases.
It’s incredibly disappointing that this change was made with little notice and that it resulted in at least 40 Christmas Trees being sent back, rather than making their way to service members in time for Christmas. It is a mistake with unintended consequences that can and must be rectified ASAP. What’s also concerning is that because of the last minute nature of the policy change many local postmasters accepted the trees and payment for shipment from the local farmers without being aware that they’d be returned.
To address this issue urge you work together and take immediate action to rectify the situation. I strongly encourage you to work with local postmasters to ensure that these already packaged trees can be shipped immediately without additional cost to the communities that have donated them. Any trees that have been returned should be re-accepted free of charge by the postal service and receive expedited shipping to their final destination. Such a decision needs to be made quickly so that trees can arrive in time for Christmas. Second, I’d ask that you make a permanent waiver to military shipping size restrictions for Christmas trees so that in future years this same unfortunate situation does not occur and this valuable holiday tradition can continue.
It’s important that swift action is taken to address this issue so that the communities and farmers who worked so hard to bring holiday cheer to our brave soldiers can rest easier knowing the Christmas trees are on their way to their intended recipients. I appreciate your attention to this matter, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Senator Charles E. Schumer