Students Organize ‘The Giving Tree’ to Make Holidays Brighter

HUGHESVILLE JUNIOR-SENIOR HIGH SCHOOL -- How do Christmas trees for free sound? A group of students in Lycoming County is making that possible for families in need.

Christie Baab teaches English at Hughesville Junior Senior High School. She introduced her senior honors students to the book that shares a dying man's insights on life, death, and everything that happens in between. She hoped they'd get more out of it than just a reading assignment.

"So they start brainstorming what they can do to give back to the community," Baab said.

"It came out of nowhere," said senior Brad Beaver. "We were thinking Christmas ideas and it just popped in our heads."

With the holiday right around the corner, Brad Beaver, Jared Snyder, and Dale Schrawder started "The Giving Tree."

It's an event where families who can't afford a Christmas tree can pick one up at no cost.

"We called our first tree farm, Brown's Tree Farm, and they gave us 30 trees right off the bat," said Beaver.

Donations for hot chocolate, food, and trees were coming in, but the group had another problem -- finding families who would get the trees.

Hughesville Friends Church gives to hundreds of families every month. Pastor Dan Cale helped sent out invitations.

"And it just kept growing from there and we've reached 80 families," Beaver said.

At the event, the trees will be upright so when families come to pick them up, it will look like any other Christmas tree farm.

"People can come and pick a tree like they would anywhere else and not have to worry about $30 or $40," said Pastor Dan Cale.

"It's a nice feeling to know you brought two parts of the community together and it benefits people who don't get to experience things like this," said senior Jared Snyder.

The event is invitation-only although students will be there to help hand out the trees.

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