Quad Cities group kicks off first annual veterans Christmas tree drive

MOLINE, Illinois -- A Moline man is teaming up with Quad Cities veteran organizations to make sure no veteran's family goes without a Christmas tree this year.

Starting small and operating out of the back of his pick-up truck, Leo "Doc" Kaalberg said his family and friends donated the first couple of trees and ornaments.

But he has big aspirations for his first annual Christmas tree drive.

"If a hundred more veterans sign up or a thousand more sign up, we'll do something, we'll figure it out," he said. "We'll find a way to get a tree to every single veteran who wants one."

Kaalberg helped found a Quad Cities-based group, "Random Acts of Veterans," with some others who wanted to help both active duty military and vets in the area.

Black Hawk College Military Students and Veterans Club President Lillian Schatz said the donation could really help veterans around the holidays when budgets tend to get tight.

"They can spend the money on their kids or their families for presents or food to have around the table," she said.

So far, Kaalberg says Random Acts of Veterans has been able to provide three veterans' families with a donated tree and ornaments, but the Quad City Veterans Outreach Center has pledged at least 20 to 30 more trees.

He is also accepting donations of new and gently used artificial trees and ornaments through the Random Acts of Veterans Facebook page. He said he won't accept cash donations.

"This is really just about [veterans] being able to smile this holiday season and not have to worry about the cost of a tree or some ornaments," he said.