In just three seasons, organization that started in Portland has grown and is set to deliver thousands of trees across the world
An idea that started with one person wanting to help five families has turned into an organization that will deliver Christmas trees to thousands of homes, including more than 200 in Clark County.
The Giving Trees does exactly as the name suggests, delivering Christmas trees to families in need.
Chad Barker of Portland said having a Christmas tree was always a special tradition for his family. He wanted to make sure it was available to more families.
“We find so many people who have never had a Christmas tree, especially a natural Christmas tree,” Barker said.
There are families out there who have to choose between a tree and food, or a tree and paying a utility bill. A tree is not a necessity, Barker acknowledged.
A tree can be special, though. It can be magical and help make for a more memorable season.
“This is not a religious endeavor,” Barker said. “This is about community, generosity, and compassion. This is filling that gap. This is something to give people an extra boost during the holiday season.”
Interestingly enough, Barker had no experience in the Christmas tree industry. He said he just wanted to wear a Santa suit and deliver trees to five families in the first year of his project. That was in the fall of 2020, with the pandemic making a mess of so many things. He figured he might as well start it right then.
He posted his idea on Facebook, and people loved the idea.
He raised enough money and had enough help to deliver 117 trees that year. He called that an “insane” number.
Well, things were about to get ever crazier.
The Giving Trees kept going, and interest grew. A year ago, the organization delivered 721 trees around the country, with most going to homes in the Portland area, including Southwest Washington.
This year, the plan is to deliver more than 2,000 trees, including some going to international destinations. More than 200 will be delivered to Clark County, thanks to The Giving Trees partnership with the Rotary Club of Greater Clark County.
“It started with, ‘How do we make people’s holiday season a little better?’ It’s morphed into this whole community of participants coming together,” Barker said.
The Giving Trees has partnered with Lee Farms in Tualatin. Other tree farms have also donated or sold trees at a reduced rate. The Giving Trees works with Lowes Home Improvement for the Christmas tree stands, and with Dollar Tree for the ornaments. Each family receives a tree, stand, and ornaments. The trees are 5- to 6-feet tall Dougla Firs.
The organization also works with school districts, such as Vancouver Public Schools, and social workers, to contact families in need.
“It’s a feel-good thing for everyone involved,” Barker said. “I love it. I’ve never worked harder on something, but I’ve never loved something more.”
Barker said the plan is to deliver more than 2,000 trees this year but there are about a thousand more families on a waiting list. Donations will help to deliver even more trees.To donate, or to find more information on The Giving Trees, go to its website: https://www.gtrees.org/
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