Nightly News   |  December 16, 2013

For soldiers' families, donated Christmas trees light up the season

One organization is Making a Difference for deserving families who could use a little holiday cheer during Christmas. NBC’s Kevin Tibbles reports.

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>> our making a difference report tonight is about an effort to bring extra brightness to military families this christmas . it's a mission that begins at christmas tree farms across this country. it ends this the living room of a lot of deserving families. we get the story tonight from nbc's kevin tibbles reporting this evening from fort leonard wood , missouri .

>> reporter: this christmas , sergeant first class ryan moreno has been deployed to the living room to share in something his young family has never had before.

>> this is our first real tree .

>> reporter: a tree that started its journey 1,000 miles away in rochester, new york. one of 17,000 donated to trees for troops by 450 farms around the country. for soldiers here at home and around the globe, lighting up the season for eight years.

>> i think it is something special and gives them hopefully a little joy and remembrance of times at home. we can't wait for them to come back.

>> reporter: local school kids adorn each tree with a heartfelt message. then they are loaded with military precision onto fed ex trucks by veterans and whisked to destinations as far away as the middle east and guam. here at fort leonard wood in missouri , families line up in the december cold to choose that special one.

>> it's a blessing that they come all this way with with all the trees just for the military. it just blows my mind every year that they do this.

>> putting trees in every soldier's house and helping out soldiers. it's a good thing.

>> reporter: some soldiers don't get trees but she's here helping wives whose husbands may be away.

>> make christmas feel like christmas .

>> reporter: and it makes christmas smell like christmas , too.

>> fresh. really fresh.

>> reporter: the moreno family found the perfect one.

>> we're good to go.

>> reporter: back home 9 -year-old brianna has her favorite decoration. you got it when your dad was in afghanistan?

>> yep.

>> reporter: a tradition complete. a family together around the tree for christmas .

>> this is a beautiful tree. don't you think?

>> reporter: kevin tibbles, nbc news, fort leonard wood , missouri .