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History & Stories
How the Christmas Tree Project started in November 2010:
Michelle and I put an ad on Craig's list to give away one Christmas
tree and we got over 20 responses in a few hours (one from a
boy's home really tugged at our hearts). We gave our tree away
to a young couple with an 11 month old baby girl. Michelle said
"why don't we take the $20 my principle gave me to do something
good with and we can pitch in the rest to buy a tree for the boys
home" - so we did, and the Christmas Tree Project was born.
The Christmas Tree Project
them we really wanted to be able to get a tree to everyone else who needed a tree. So our friends
immediately said, "we'll pitch in to buy a few more trees", so we did. The Gazette heard about what was
going on and wrote a story about us.
The Gazette Article appeared on December 8th: The moment the Gazette article was published, the project
instantly became much more than Michelle and I could handle ourselves, so friends, family, and people we
didn't even know jumped in to help do everything that was needed to make the Christmas tree magic happen.
A team of over 15 people picked up, delivered, sorted, processed, organized, called, emailed, followed-up,
and tirelessly worked to give away those 110+ trees-every one of them complete with ornaments, lights,
tinsel, and candy canes. We even went coast-to-coast. We gave one tree away in Los Angeles and one in
Huntington, West Virginia. We soon learned the Christmas Tree Project story was picked up by newspapers
nationwide, and we received emails from around the country from people wanting to help, donate, and just to
express their deep appreciation for what we were doing.
We helped give away another 200 live trees: After we ran out of trees, we collaborated with Chris Barela at
Tough Tool Rental Center's live tree lot to help give away another 200 trees the week before Christmas. He was
inspired by the story and called us to help out, so we sent people to him and delivered a truck load of
ornaments and lights to him so he could furnish fully decorated trees. We then helped make sure he had
media coverage in the Gazette and KRDO so people would know that more free trees were available.
Giving away over 300 Trees: Beyond those 300 trees, the 7,000 ornaments, the 1,000 candy canes, and over a
mile of Christmas tree lights-the focus and heart of this project remained the hundreds of families who were
touched-some to the point of tears, by the generosity and caring of all the wonderful people involved in the
The Christmas Tree Project in the News:
The Christmas Tree Project - People and Stories:
One of the things that was the most moving for Michelle and me (and for everyone else directly
involved) was being able to meet the families that we helped and talk with them and hear their
stories first-hand. Though they were often stories of struggle and difficult challenges, they were
also inspiring, and we were privileged to share their joy in being able to have a tree and receive
their hugs of gratitude. So, for all of you who contributed or helped in any way, we want to share
some of the thank-you's, the magic moments, and the emails we received.
"To all the volunteers from the Christmas Tree Project: I just wanted to say THANK YOU so much
Christmas tree and all the ornaments, etc. that you gave for my daughter and grandson! It was my
grandsons first Christmas and when the tree was up and the lights were on my grandson was just
enthralled by it. It meant so much to me for them to be able have a Christmas tree to put their gifts
under. I was very sad thinking that they would not be able to have a Christmas tree for their home
and then I heard what all of you were doing to help provide trees to the people who wouldn't be able
to get one. I all can say is God bless you for opening your hearts and the kindness shown to make my
only daughter and grandsons first Christmas together as a family a little more special for them. I
wish you could have seen the look on my grandsons face."
Thank you, Shennon Jenness, Jeron Jones and Douglas (Little D).
"Thank you for the Christmas tree! We appreciate the assistance with our Blessing on Christmas!!"
From Salazar Family
“Thank you so much! To all the people and organizations that made our Christmas tree possible. We
thank you. Words cannot express how a true Christmas miracle was actually made real! Bless you
all! We could not have a Christmas tree otherwise. Please continue to keep doing this great
From the Drake Family.
"Christmas Tree Project- Just a thanks for the tree and bulbs. It was intended for one our daughters,
and the lord had another plan. A family member who had moved back to town struggling with a
hardship had no tree, just a strand of lights. The 2 little children were so happy they were clapping,
when we delivered the tree. The spouse had decided he just could not go back to Iraq, he was
getting sick with nightmares from the war. He lost all benefits and was sent away for a while. Talk
about a 8 month hardship on a family of 4. God bless you. I was able to buy a couple of presents for
them also. Remember the reason for the season!"
"May God bless you and your loved ones. Thank you for your tree donation. It looks beautiful in our
living room and our six kids love it!"
From the Griffith Family
"Thank you so much WOW! I am going this morning to get my tree I am excited the tree will be with
me for years to come and a wonderful Christmas story along with it Thank you."
"Ooh thank you so much!!! You have no idea how happy this will make my kids. If you could deliver it
that would be just great!!!" (NOTE: We delivered it)
"I appreciate this project you guys have put together, this is an awesome program and a blessing to
people in need, I'm glad that some of us still believe in what Christmas is really about. I gave those 2
tree's to my friends and they we're so grateful. One of them even cried and the children were so
happy. Thanks again for taking your time in helping all these families. We already sent the cards back
in the mail. I again thank you for the tree's, lights and decorations."
"Thank you so much. I hope you have a Merry Christmas. With the good work that you've done, you
have earned it."
Chris from Tough Tool Rental said, "I had someone call me today and say she just needed a small tree
because her little girl didn't think Santa would come if a tree wasn't in the house."
There was a young couple with five children and another on the way (due Christmas day!) who needed
a tree and ended up with a wonderful nine-and-half-foot tree. They said their children would just not
believe they had such a magnificent tree. By the looks on their faces and the bounce in their stride, I
don't think they would have been happier if they had won the lottery.
Paula Dosen, a local physician saw the Gazette article and called asking to help. She headed the tree
pickup team and spent days driving from one end of town to the other picking up and delivering over
25 trees. Her efforts were clearly a mission of caring that went way beyond simple logistics.
An elderly woman just returning from the hospital called to make sure someone could pick up her tree
because she wanted to make sure it was part of the "Christmas Tree Project." The tree was fully
decorated and was one of the most beautiful that was donated. That tree ended up being the answer
to a grandmother's prayer. (See the story below and the photo in the following section).
Then there was the grandmother walking past David and Michelle's garage as David and Paula were
unloading a very special tree. She was returning from a meeting nearby and, after David told her the
Christmas tree project was collecting trees for families that needed them, she told David and Paula
about the prayer she'd made that morning to find a way to be able to provide her daughter and
grandsons, who had just moved in with her, with holiday decorations this year. When David and Paula
offered her the beautiful tree, she told them the tree was the answer to her prayers. A magical
moment for sure.
The injured solider who (we couldn't help but notice) had a Purple Heart license plate, was happy to
get a tree for his family. He was the only person we did not give a pre-addressed card to so he could
write a note of thanks to all the people who worked on the Christmas Tree Project It seemed so
obvious that we all owed him and his family infinitely more than they owed us.
There was a single mother living with her young son in a motel. She contacted us and wanted a
"small" tree that would fit in the motel to brighten up their Christmas. (One of our delivery "Elfs"
made sure her son had the skateboard he so much wanted for Christmas.)
There were people on the tree delivery team who found people in need when they delivered trees
and found ways to help far beyond delivering a tree. More kindness and generosity paying it forward.
There was a wonderful woman from the West Coast who was recently relocated with her children
because she was a victim of extreme domestic violence. She had a new job, a new house, and
nothing for Christmas for her young children. She was so grateful to have a tree and decorations.
When we asked her if she wanted some wrapping paper, she started to say "yes" but when she realized
she wouldn't have any presents to wrap, she declined, saying just having a tree would be good
A few of the hundreds of emails:
From Families Wanting Trees:
"Hello! My name is XXXX, and i am raising my grandson. He is 5years old, this year has been pretty
tough on Us, we have been without jobs since July of this year, we are barely paying on rent by doing
odd jobs and everything else we know to do to survive, we've had to move in the last 6 months twice,
and God has blessed us with a understanding landlord. We try so hard to raise him with dignity and
honesty, but we do not have a Christmas tree as of yet. My Grandson just started school this year,
(Kindergarten) and he is doing so well we are trying very hard to keep our spirits up!! It would be so
nice and such a blessing if you could find it in you hearts to bless him with a beautiful Christmas Tree
for this year, no child should be with out a Christmas, much worse without a tree. we will pray that
God touches your giving hearts to see fit that he could be a recipient of one of those trees. May God
bless and keep you!! Keep up the good work making some children the happiest ever. I am disabled
and can't work, my husband is trying very desperately to find work" (The husband of this wonderful
family looked at me after I delivered the tree and said "Don't worry, I'll pay-this-forward.")
"I came across the post on CL and my family are in need of a tree. We have 3 small children a 2 year
old a 1 year old and an infant that will be 3 months this month. My wife is the only one that has
income and cannot pay for extras this year. She did get a few little decorations from the dollar store
with her last $5 dollars. She has been quite sad that we cannot have a tree. I would like to come pick
up the tree and decorations if the tree is still available. I know this would be a wish come true for
her and myself and our children. Thank You and God Bless!!!!"
"Hello I was interested in your christmas tree I am unable to give my daughter a christmas this year at
all so i would at least like to try an get her a christmas tree to decorate i am a single mother I am
unable to work because of health conditions so it makes things hard for us but if your tree is available
an you are able to deliver it to me I would so appreciate it i have no transportation you would so
make my daughters holidays I can be reached by phone anytime at XXX-XXX-XXXX. Thank you for
your time an consideration I look forward to hearing from you have a blessed day an happy holidays"
"My name is XXXXX. I recently went through a nasty divorce where I left with 2 children and only our
clothes. Now last week I broke my ankle, had ankle surgery, and am moving into our new place on
Saturday. If you still have your tree I know my kids would enjoy it, and I can come pick it up in the
afternoon. Thank you."
"I need a tree for my daughter's 2nd Christmas. If it was just me I would go without but I spent the
last little bit of money I had on presents for her because I refuse to have her go without presents to
open this year. I need a tree and lights, ornaments would be wonderful too. I have a few ornaments I
bought from The Arc for a couple bucks but thats all I have so far. I was hoping for a 7 foot tree to
really brighten her Christmas! Please let me know where I can pick one up at."
"My name is XXXX and I am with the Colorado Springs Mission, (called Men With A Mission). We are a
small non-profit helping the homeless and unemployed. I recently bought a Christmas tree, out of my
own funds, for a family with 7 kids. Unfortunately, when they pulled all the lights and ornaments out
of the basement, everything had been destroyed by water. So, all the family has is a bare tree and I
have no more personal funds to help them. The Rescue Mission referred me to you. If you can help or
know of an organization that can, I and this family would very much appreciate it. Thank you and
have a merry Christmas."
"Hi my name is XXXX and the tree would be greatly appreciated. I just moved here from Texas and I
can't afford one this year. I have 4 children. Three daughters 12, 8 & 3 and a 2 yr old boy. Now I'm
low on gas so if your not to far from me I'll be able to come by." (We delivered a tree to them and
they were thrilled.)
"Hi, my name is XXX, I am a single mother of a 2 1/2 year old little boy and in desperate need of a
Christmas Tree. My son's father hasn't paid child support in well over a year and things are EXTREMELY
tight for me. Do you have any Christmas Trees left? I would be very grateful if you do and it would
help to make this Christmas special for my son. Thanks- "
"My name is XXXXX. I have custody of my niece and don't have the money to get a tree this year. Her
parents are both in prison and I got custody of her 4 months ago. I was wondering if there was any
way that i could get some help with a tree? I am trying hard enough just to keep a roof over her head
. Thank you."
"About 2 years back I was in better financial means than now and I was standing in line in the grocery
store and a man in front of me as I was waiting to pay for my tree a beautiful 7ft real tree and I
asked him, did he get his tree yet he said know with a sad look on his face he had just lost his job
and was struggling. I bought the man his family Christmas tree. I now today know how the man felt
that I am so broke due to illness and loss of work at a older age gone back to school to try and pull
myself through this if there is anyone who could help me with a tree this year god bless you."
"My husband is a PFC in the Army. We have one baby who just turned 10 months today. I am currently
unemployed, not by choice. When we went on post to get a free tree they informed us that they
were completely out and since we have been looking on Craigslist for a free or very cheap one. When
I inquired to someone who was giving away a free tree they gave me this email along with a phone
number to call and said that y'all might be able to help. We really don't have a lot to put under a
tree, but it would be nice to have one for my baby. Thank you for reading this and I hope to hear
from you soon."
"Hi my name is XXX and I have a two and a half year old little girl and a thirteen month old little boy.
I have been involved with a local resource center. I was given an internship with hopes that I would
get some job training so I could find a good job that would pay a little more. Since I started my
internship I have encountered a lot of roadblocks that have been making it hard for me to be able to
finish my internship so I can find a job. I am not able to get my kids anything for Christmas but
thought maybe I wouldn't feel as bad if I could put a tree up for them. I had a tree at one point and it
was stored in my parents apartment off their back porch well when they moved they forgot about it.
All my lights, ornaments that I had been collecting for my kids over the years stockings everything is
gone. Thank you so much for your time hope to hear from you."
"I have 6 kids and no tree.. we would like if still available.."
"Hey I was interested in the tree I have 4 mth old twin girls and an 5 yr old daughter so it would
brighten my day if u still have it."
"Just curious if you still have the Christmas tree? We're about to have our 5th baby, and the kids
would love one (ours got ruined when our basement flooded last January)."
Emails of support from around the country:
"The Hebron Lions Club has approx 25 trees left from our tree sales that we would be willing to
donate to needy familys in the Hartford Ct. area. Let me know " (We were able to give them some
advice about getting the trees to families in Hartford.)
"Hi There. We are From New York (Long Island Area). Please let me know how we can help, do you
have any needy families in our area? I think it is really great of you guys, and what a symbolic idea,
not to just give gifts or monetary donations or even clothes. Thank you for this idea."
"Maybe there is hope for the human race."
"What you guys are doing is so wonderful and I thank you for the generosity you show to the
"Already told u guys how great this is, lost my wife, I'm still not feeling the spirit this year, but, to
think about making someone else smile, and maybe their wee ones too, best present I could give
myself, maybe I got a little of that christmas spirit after all, thank you."
"Until mankind can extend the circle of his compassion to include all living things, he will never
himself, know peace."
"He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor. Proverbs 22:9. God
Bless You. Your simple acts of kindness are extraordinary. Thank you."
"It's a great thing you are doing. I'm out of town this week but will bring $200 in cash to Sammy's
Organics before noon on Saturday; you can bank on it!" (The $200 did show up at Sammy's.)
"What a fantastic idea! My girls and I are so moved. We would love to help."
"What a blessing you are to our community..."
"Tell me what you need most: Cash donations, assistance obtaining/decorating trees, delivering?
We'll do what we can!"
We told some friends about the Craig's list ad, the trees we gave
away, how much the boys home appreciated the tree and told