Buy a Tree ministry helps children locally and globally

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Deena C. Bouknight — Contributing Writer

Buy a Tree. Change a Life. is a national 501(c)3 non-profit

organization founded in 2012 that Prentiss Church and a host of Macon County sponsors have made their own. The sole goal of the organization is to help children globally and locally by way of an annual Christmas tree sale.

This week, the fourth annual local sale takes place beside Crabtree General Store and Coffee Vault on the Town of Franklin square. Because a local sponsor has provided funds for administrative costs, volunteers offer their time, and funds have been donated to purchase the trees, most of the money raised from the sale of the Fraser firs goes directly toward helping children. 

Samuel Crabtree, one of the family owners of the store, said Buy a Tree is a cause worth supporting. “It’s such a great mission organization to help children locally and in Cambodia.” 

A percentage of Christmas tree sales is used to purchase backpacks for school-aged children in Macon County. The remainder supports ongoing efforts in Cambodia: building projects, clothing, education, orphans, food, and more. Kevin Chapman, pastor at Prentiss Church, explained that since Cambodia was ravaged by the Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot and 2 million people lost their lives, the country has recovered gradually with the assistance of mission teams that work alongside Cambodians to promote life skills and trades to encourage self sufficiency and economic stability.

Jim Bell, a member of Prentiss, has been doing global mission work through his own mission organization, Carpenters Hands, for several years. However, he volunteered with Buy a Tree last Christmas and traveled to Cambodia for the first time this year with three other team members from Macon County. Chapman, Randy Stoudemire, and Nick Page were there with Bell for 10 days.

“It’s an outstanding, incredible organization that does a tremendous amount of good in Cambodia,” he said. “I was able to see for myself the schools, orphanages … how well they are run. The organization is educating children and sending them on to have more potential in their lives… to become leaders and help educate others in their country. Plus, Buy a Tree. Change a Life. focuses on the orphans no matter if they age out. The organization teaches them how to garden, farm, grow vegetables … I had seen pictures of the work being done there, but until you actually touch the soil and meet the people, you truly have no idea. 

He added, “If the opportunity presents itself, I will go back – just to see the progress of what’s happening there. It’s all God. Nothing to do with us.”

Crabtree said he already has his “calendar marked” for the 2020 mission trip to Cambodia. It will be his first. 

“There are needs here as well,” said Crabtree, “but I know the needs there are different.”

The local Buy a Tree effort last year resulted in the sale of 225 trees and around $20,906.91 raised. 

Nationally,  Buy a Tree. Change a Life. experienced sales of 11,000 trees in 44 churches across 15 states and a total of $621,401 raised, according to Kelly Johnson, director. “It is so important for churches to reach outside of their walls to help people. Something really wonderful happens when we take the focus off of ourselves and turn our efforts to serve others. Most of the time, the people giving and serving at Christmastime selling trees with this project will never see the children they are helping, but the trees they are selling will continue to have an impact on children all year long.  When we reach out and help in practical ways to people we don’t even know, we are being the hands and feet of Jesus!”

The Buy a Tree. Change a Life. lot opens this Friday, Nov. 29, and will stay open until all the trees are gone. Trees sell for $30 and up.

Deena C. Bouknight — Contributing Writer

Buy a Tree. Change a Life. is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 2012 that Prentiss Church and a host of Macon County sponsors have made their own. The sole goal of the organization is to help children globally and locally by way of an annual Christmas tree sale.

This week, the fourth annual local sale takes place beside Crabtree General Store and Coffee Vault on the Town of Franklin square. Because a local sponsor has provided funds for administrative costs, volunteers offer their time, and funds have been donated to purchase the trees, most of the money raised from the sale of the Fraser firs goes directly toward helping children. 

Samuel Crabtree, one of the family owners of the store, said Buy a Tree is a cause worth supporting. “It’s such a great mission organization to help children locally and in Cambodia.” 

A percentage of Christmas tree sales is used to purchase backpacks for school-aged children in Macon County. The remainder supports ongoing efforts in Cambodia: building projects, clothing, education, orphans, food, and more. Kevin Chapman, pastor at Prentiss Church, explained that since Cambodia was ravaged by the Khmer Rouge regime under the leadership of Pol Pot and 2 million people lost their lives, the country has recovered gradually with the assistance of mission teams that work alongside Cambodians to promote life skills and trades to encourage self sufficiency and economic stability.

Jim Bell, a member of Prentiss, has been doing global mission work through his own mission organization, Carpenters Hands, for several years. However, he volunteered with Buy a Tree last Christmas and traveled to Cambodia for the first time this year with three other team members from Macon County. Chapman, Randy Stoudemire, and Nick Page were there with Bell for 10 days.

“It’s an outstanding, incredible organization that does a tremendous amount of good in Cambodia,” he said. “I was able to see for myself the schools, orphanages … how well they are run. The organization is educating children and sending them on to have more potential in their lives… to become leaders and help educate others in their country. Plus, Buy a Tree. Change a Life. focuses on the orphans no matter if they age out. The organization teaches them how to garden, farm, grow vegetables … I had seen pictures of the work being done there, but until you actually touch the soil and meet the people, you truly have no idea. 

He added, “If the opportunity presents itself, I will go back – just to see the progress of what’s happening there. It’s all God. Nothing to do with us.”

Crabtree said he already has his “calendar marked” for the 2020 mission trip to Cambodia. It will be his first. 

“There are needs here as well,” said Crabtree, “but I know the needs there are different.”

The local Buy a Tree effort last year resulted in the sale of 225 trees and around $20,906.91 raised. 

Nationally,  Buy a Tree. Change a Life. experienced sales of 11,000 trees in 44 churches across 15 states and a total of $621,401 raised, according to Kelly Johnson, director. “It is so important for churches to reach outside of their walls to help people. Something really wonderful happens when we take the focus off of ourselves and turn our efforts to serve others. Most of the time, the people giving and serving at Christmastime selling trees with this project will never see the children they are helping, but the trees they are selling will continue to have an impact on children all year long.  When we reach out and help in practical ways to people we don’t even know, we are being the hands and feet of Jesus!”

The Buy a Tree. Change a Life. lot opens this Friday, Nov. 29, and will stay open until all the trees are gone. Trees sell for $30 and up.

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