She said she was excited to get the email about the free trees.

It was a great help, she said.

Trying to economize, she said she wasn't going to get a fresh tree and, besides, she'd be away from her home and family in Florida.

"That'll bring me a little Christmas cheer," she said, as members of the National Guard Teen Council helped her stuff her tree inside her Hyundai compact.


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Theresa (Beth) Stoddard, lead child and youth program coordinator at the Fifth Regiment Armory, called on members of the Teen Council — the children of National Guard members — to help families secure the trees to their vehicles.

The four who came were: Ena Keys, of Columbia, Alaina Funk, of Parkton, Michael Milchling, of Essex, and Anthony Epps, of Reisterstown.

The teens also helped load a dozen trees into a Humvee bound for the Guard unit in Salisbury and more into an Army truck headed to Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

Daniel Tucker came down from Harford County to pick up 100 trees for soldiers on duty and soldiers who were unable to come themselves due to disability, illness or other problems.

"This is a great thing he (Simons) is doing," he said.

Maryland National Guardsmen are currently serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo, he said, adding that he's about to be deployed after Christmas himself, his seventh deployment.

Cidney Thomas, who is assigned to the 224th Medical Unit in Olney, recently returned from New Jersey, where her unit had been sent to help victims of Hurricane Sandy. She previously served in Iraq.

Her son, Staff Sgt. Jason Thomas, just returned from his sixth deployment in Afghanistan.

"He's like me," she said of her son. "We love what we do."

She said she was grateful for the tree give-away.

"You know what?" she said. "Someone is helping me. That's great and I am here. I think this is so wonderful."