For families of military service members deployed to the Middle East, tasks such as mowing the lawn may become burdens low on the list of priorities.
The GreenCare for Troops program through Project EverGreen, now beginning its second year, aims to help these families by matching them with a landscape contractor in their area who volunteers to provide free lawn and landscape maintenance services for one year. The program has received 3,500 applications from families so far. About 1,000 landscape contractors are currently involved, but the program is looking to add more this year to meet the demand.
Den Gardner, executive director of Project EverGreen, says volunteers mostly provide mowing and general lawn maintenance services, though in some cases they also apply fertilizers and other products. The program is flexible so that local volunteers can tailor it to fit their businesses without being a burden.
“Here is a way for volunteer citizens to feel they are part of the effort by helping one of these families,” Gardner says.
Gardner says response to the program has been overwhelmingly positive. “Some of the most interesting comments come from families who don’t have a volunteer for their area,” Gardner says. “They understand that this is a totally volunteer, grassroots program.” Gardner says the families appreciate the program whether they receive help or not.
One service member serving in Baghdad, whose family the program helped last summer, emailed Gardner thanking him and asked for a Project EverGreen banner. Gardner says the man hung the banner in one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces and sent him pictures. “It’s that kind of appreciation that we get,” Gardner says.
Gardner says areas where a large number of National Guard members have been deployed or areas with military bases especially need volunteers.
For more information or to volunteer, visit the Project EverGreen Web site at www.projectevergreen.com or call (877) 758-4835.