In a campaign that is sweeping the country, Christmas trees are being snatched up left and right to save the lives of many disadvantaged youths in Cambodia and in local communities who cannot celebrate Christmas. The non-profit organization partners with People for Care & Learning (PCL) and other groups sharing the same passion to set up yearly Christmas tree tents and raise money. 100 percent of the proceeds received go directly to impoverished children in need.
In Jacksonville, FL., Fathom Church is participating in the tree selling for the first time. Donations have been promised to support an orphanage in Cambodia as well as a local foundation participating in after-school care. Founder of the two-year-old church, Pastor Kyle Nelson, stresses the importance of local support. All of the proceeds will be given away according to Nelson. He works the Christmas tree lot along with church volunteers.
Linda Ward, one of their first customers, saw the sign after driving by another Christmas tree lot. She purchased the tree, agreeing that it was a great fundraiser. With the rising price in Christmas trees, having the money go towards a worthy cause that can save lives made it worthwhile. Nelson is expecting to be able to raise $10-15,000 by the end of the season to donate. His church is hosting family night, an effort to bring in the community with two movie nights featuring winter classics.
In Hephzibah, Ga., another church has joined the campaign this year. The Oasis Church in Hephzibah is also giving 100 percent of the proceeds to local and global organizations for disadvantaged youth. Lead Pastor Wesley Weatherford saw the campaign online three years ago when Life Pointe Church’s head pastor, Travis Johnson, shared it via his Facebook page. Weatherford spoke with Johnson about the campaign and knew that he wanted to get involved. Weatherford purchased 300 Frasier Fur Christmas trees to sell from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Weatherford’s plan is to raise $15,000 to help improve two orphanages in Cambodia. The Cambodian orphanages being supported are sponsored by PCL. PCL supports the children educationally all the way through college. teaching them, educating them, and thereby breaking the impoverished cycle over their lives.
Locally, Weatherford plans to donate 100 backpacks to disadvantaged kids starting school. Since beginning the “Buy a Tree. Change a Life” campaign, he has increased his goal to 500 backpacks filled with essential school supplies for the following year. He ambitiously wants to also gift bicycles to the children. The Oasis Church is selling the Christmas trees in 12 hour shifts during the weekday and 13 hour shifts on the weekend.
Residents of Cleveland are also getting in on the action as well. Christmas tree sales kicked off on Thanksgiving Day at Keith Street Church of God of Prophecy. This is the second year PCL is hosting their “Buy a Tree. Change a Life”in Cleveland and are looking to become part of an annual tradition. Director of Events and Logistics, Abby Fletcher, hopes more and more families will come to the lot for their Christmas trees. The Christmas trees range in size from under 5 feet to just over 13 feet.
Cleveland is one of nine locations around the country participating in the Buy a Tree fundraiser. Other locations include Bend, Or., Deland, FL., and Homestead, Fl. All of the locations are working in unison to fund PCL’s five main programs primarily located in Cambodia. The money raised will go towards finishing the remaining 300 homes in their Build a City project, the two orphanages, build learning centers, sustain farming, and finance the Common Grounds Café.
Fletcher is also offering gift cards for those unable to afford the purchase of a Christmas tree. Those that are not able to purchase a tree can get a gift card for a family in need. At the end of the season, PCL plans to cooperate with other nonprofits to match the gift card. Local sponsorship and support has allowed for the fundraiser to come back around for a second year. Churches, a local TV station, and a mattress supply store among others contributed their time and money to make it another successful year. Those interested in purchasing a life-saving Christmas tree or are interested in the “Buy a Tree. Change a Life” fundraiser are encouraged to contact Abby via email, firstname.lastname@example.org or can go to the Buy a Tree website.
By Stevenson Benoit
First Coast News
Cleveland Daily Banner
Photo by Wonderlane – Flickr License