ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (WTRF)

Thomas Auto Centers started their Freedom Tree program in 2012.

That year, they helped three veterans and their families.

The project has grown every year, and by last year, they helped 33 veterans’ families including 112 children.

This year, the tree is up and they’re accepting donations from the public—either cash or gift cards, gas cards or grocery cards.

And they also want suggestions for the names of more veterans and their families who could use a little help this Christmas.

“If you know any veteran in need, all you have to do is call us and give us their names,” said Robert Thomas, vice president of Thomas Auto Centers. “The only thing we ask is that you let the veteran know before we call them. They might need a little help during the holidays, just a little extra giving, and that’s what we’re here for, just to help them out.”

“Teenagers are the main age group that we never have enough for,” said Robin Thomas, Freedom Tree coordinator. “We always receive plenty of toys for the little ones. Toys are easier to buy and probably a lot more fun for people to buy. But we would appreciate gifts for 11- through 18-year-olds.”

She said teens like electronics but they like smaller things too, like body wash, perfume and socks.

Robin Thomas said older veterans enjoy puzzle books and jigsaw puzzles too.

The Freedom Tree also supports veterans’ widows and even their support K9s.

To find out more, you can call (740) 694-0452.