Christmas trees mailed to troops returned thanks to new federal rules
SCOTTSVILLE, N.Y. -- Return to sender. It's the last thing you want to see on a Christmas gift you mail, but that's what happened to more than a dozen trees from Stokoe Farms destined for soldiers overseas. The problem wasn’t a Grinch, but a glitch.
For 10 years, Stokoe Farms has sent Christmas trees to local soldiers serving overseas.
"It's been a great success, and I think greatly appreciated by the recipients of these trees,” said Suzanne Stokoe.
This year, 37 trees were shipped to solders abroad, but Stokoe got an unwelcome surprise.
"We found out last week that almost half of the trees that we had mailed have been returned,” said Stokoe.
16 of the 37 trees came back with return to sender stickers. The trees were deemed too big to ship thanks to a new last minute rule from the Departments of State and Defense.
"It's been very unfortunate and a sad situation to know that so much time and effort and donated money has gone to try to send these trees overseas, to just have them be returned,” said Stokoe.
Senator Schumer has asked for an immediate waiver of the new rules. "It is tragically un-American that this change was made right before Christmas, with little notice,” he said.
With Christmas inching closer, Stokoe isn't confident they'll make it in time.
"We're really frustrated and devastated that these trees are not going to make it to these people that are expecting a little bit of home and comfort during a time that is very difficult to be away from family,” said Stokoe.
If they can't get the waiver and the trees shipped out in time for Christmas Stokoe says they'll find deserving military families here at home.