The City With Spirit’s goodwill and holiday cheer will burn brightly during People for Care and Learning’s “Buy a Tree, Change a Life” Christmas tree sale through Dec. 12.
Executive Director Fred Garmon said two donors, who wish to remain anonymous, have purchased trees for families in need who may otherwise not have a live Christmas tree. The two individuals bought 10 and six trees respectively. Their purchases were made independent of each other.
“You could hear the cheers throughout Bradley County from all of us,” Garmon said. “That is one of those extraordinary, generous gifts.”
One of the anonymous buyers said he will turn to local nonprofit agencies and churches to determine those in need. Garmon said PCL will do the same for the other six trees and any additional trees donated.
Added Garmon, “Maybe you have an artificial tree, but you could come down and donate a tree to families in need.”
Community residents choosing to buy Christmas trees for others of their own volition was an unforseen byproduct of the tree sale. Another example of Cleveland’s spirit of generosity is the donations PCL has received.
“Some people are just donating,” Garmon explained. “They buy a tree and let’s say the tree costs $60, they are giving us $100.”
All funds raised through “Buy a Tree, Change a Life” go toward PCL’s two orphanages in Cambodia. The local nonprofit works on a global scale to “inspire hope and empower potential” from Southeast Tennessee to Southeast Asia. One primary way is by supporting orphans from the time they enter the orphanages through their college experience. Although it is rare in the Third World country, children who are adopted are always welcome to visit the orphanages.
Director of events and logistics Ivey Lawrence said the Christmas tree fundraiser will ensure the continued existence and growth of the two orphanages.
Lawrence explained in a previous Banner interview the orphanages, “are something we as staff love, because we know our kids and we get to watch them grow up.”
According to Garmon, the tree sales have taken a hit since the rainy weather moved into town. He said he hopes Cleveland and Bradley County residents will come out one way or the other to buy a tree. The goal is for every individual, friend group, couple or family to have an outdoor experience with each purchase.
“The smell is absolutely unbelievable when you have 600 [North Carolina fir] Christmas trees,” Garmon said. “We have the fire burning, the Christmas lights up, the search light going at night — it is December in Tennessee.”
He shared some of funny stories which have come from the tree sale so far.
“It is really interesting when some of them tie them up and then they tie their doors shut,” Garmon said. “Then they have to crawl into their windows.”
The hope is good weather will return to allow the showing of movies on the lawn beside the tree tents. More information on when and if movies will be shown can be found on the event’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/buyatreecleveland.
Refreshments are provided for families who purchase a tree. Garmon said the volunteers and staff are also always up for snapping a photo of buyers posing beside their trees. Prices and sizes of the trees include: $30, less than 5 feet; $40, 5-6 feet; $50, 6-7 feet; $60, 7-8 feet; $70, 8-9 feet; $80, 9-10 feet; $100, 10-11 feet; and $120, 11-plus feet.
Garmon expressed his gratitude for the hometown support.
“We are always happy [with] the Cleveland community and their response to People for Care and Learning,” Garmon said. “When they have found out we are doing something, the Cleveland community has been very good about coming out to support us.”
He encouraged men in the community to join the abundant female volunteers in selling and loading Christmas trees through Dec. 12. Churches are also welcome to place a flyer in their Sunday bulletins.
“We are thrilled with [the support],” Garmon said. “We just hope the weather will permit us to sale trees not until Dec. 12.”