Of­fer of tree grows into an­nual event

The Denver Post - - DENVER & THE WEST - By Jen­nifer Brown

Michelle and David Fein only wanted to get rid of their fake Christ­mas tree with a sim­ple Craiglist post: “Free Christ­mas tree to a fam­ily with chil­dren.”

But the re­sponses to the Colorado Springs cou­ple’s post led them much fur­ther. Within hours, 20 peo­ple were ask­ing for the ar­ti­fi­cial tree, and ex­plain­ing why they needed it. “I have 6 kids and no tree. … We would like it if it’s still avail­able,” wrote one.

“My kids are 6 and 9. We won’t have a lot un­der it this year but there will be some­thing there,” said another.

Another: “My hus­band broke his leg five weeks ago and we are re­ally strug­gling. We need a tree des­per­ately.”

The Feins gave their tree to a fam­ily with an 11month-old baby and bought another tree for a group home for boys that re­sponded to the ad. But they couldn’t stop think­ing about the rest of the peo­ple who asked. “It just hit us,” David Fein said. “It was pretty amaz­ing.”

They told their friends, the story ended up in the Colorado Springs Gazette and, within 12 days, they had given away more than 300 trees.

That was 2010. Since then, the Christ­mas Tree Project has given away more than 1,500 trees, fake and fresh. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has re­ceived about 1,000 re­quests for trees in the last 30 days, mainly from peo­ple in Colorado Springs and Den­ver but also from across the coun­try. A 14-year-old boy from Arkansas whose mother re­cently died said his tree would be a “sym­bol of hope,” re­called Fein, who runs a small soft­ware com­pany in Colorado Springs.

“I’ve had so many peo­ple tell me that if they had a choice be­tween presents and a tree, they would choose a tree,” Fein said. “Metaphor­i­cally, it’s a light in your house, a glow­ing pres­ence.”

Each tree comes with lights, or­na­ments, tin­sel and candy canes. The project is run 100 per­cent by do­na­tions of ar­ti­fi­cial and real trees, dec­o­ra­tions and or­na­ments, and vol­un­teer work­ers. To do­nate or re­quest a tree, e-mail info@thechrist­mas­treep­ro­ject.org or call 719-799-6070.

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