- Associated Press - Sunday, December 13, 2015

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) - Lynn Steele says she suffered bleak days after her husband, a local farmer, fell off a bulldozer and died in September.

Limited by multiple sclerosis and with no one to help her, Steele, 68, said she didn’t see how she could run the Christmas tree farm that she and Arthur Steele had labored on since 1985.

About a month ago, Steele posted a sign in front of her Vernon Street property announcing that Steele’s Tree Farm would cease operations. Manchester police Officer Dan Doyon saw the sign and talked to the widow. He learned that despite Steele’s severe disability, the tiny woman had been trimming spruce trees from her motorized chair and doing other farm work that seemed beyond her size and capabilities.

“She stacked those cinder blocks,” Doyon said, pointing to a neat pile on the side of a barn.

Impressed by Steele’s grit and unwilling to let her hard work go for naught, Doyon and several other town police officers decided to help. With tutorials from Steele and YouTube videos, they learned the rudiments of Christmas tree harvesting and processing.



On Dec. 5, Doyon, Sgt. Marc Hughes and Officers Christina Krawec and Jason Carbone carted fresh-cut spruces to a vibrating machine that shook off debris. They ran the trees through a baler and secured the twine-wrapped evergreens to customers’ car tops after collecting $50 for each. With sap-covered gloves, they worked from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., handing all proceeds over to Steele. Hughes said they will return for the next two Saturdays.

“I’ve hit some low points,” Steele said, “but things like this give you a reason to keep going.”

The Christmas tree cops also plan to enclose the ramp Steele uses to get into her house, Doyon said. She’s had problems with her wheelchair skidding in wet weather.

“We’re just doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Hughes said. “We didn’t want to see (the farm) end like that and see all her hard work go to waste.”

Steele is doing her part. As Carbone and Doyon tried to figure how to run a fat tree through the baler, she said, “See that pin there? Pull it out.”

But Steele said she cannot adequately express her gratitude to her new farm crew.

“With all the stuff going on in the world,” she said, “it just reinforces that there are some really nice people.”

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Information from: Hartford Courant, https://www.courant.com

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