Brittney Lofthouse – Staff Writer

Last year, Prentiss Church of God launched a “Buy A Tree Change A Life” (BATCAL)fundraiser that raised just over $15,000 to help children “globally and locally.” This year, members of the church have upped their goal and hope to raise $20,000 through the sale of Christmas trees.

“Eight-five percent of the money raised is sent out globally to help children in some of the most challenging places on the planet,” said Prentiss pastor Kevin Chapman. “Fifteen percent of the money will stay local to help kids in our community in Franklin. Last year, we raised $15,055.10. We were able to give $1,129 to Smoky Mountain Pregnancy Care Center and $1,129 to KIDS Place of Franklin. In addition, we contributed $12,797.10 to help children globally.”

Prentiss Church solicits corporate sponsors for the fundraiser and partners with Norton Creek Farms for the trees.

“Our sponsors give a generous donation to assist the fundraising and when people buy Christmas trees we make money,” said Chapman.

This year, Chapman said the church hopes to increase what they raise to be able to give more money to both local organizations and global agencies working to improve the lives of children.

In addition to helping local agencies, the fundraiser helps to fund Church of God missionaries in Cambodia.

“The funds Prentiss raises for ‘Buy a Tree’ provides ongoing financial assistance for our missionaries in Cambodia,” said Chapman. “In addition, our orphanages are funded and we assist the children all the way through university. The only way to break the cycle of poverty is through education in Cambodia. Many of the children have been under our care for most of their lives. We have undertaken to helping them all the way through university and helping them find a career. Buy a Tree provides food for remote villages in Cambodia. Prentiss does not keep one penny of the funds raised for Buy a Tree Change a Life.”

While the Buy a Tree, Change a Life fundraiser helps with the ongoing mission work in Cambodia, the church goes above and beyond to providing for the needs of the children at Takam Village.  Last year, Prentiss provided $600 to help the school build 20 desks for the  children, and during a visit to Cambodia last Spring, Chapman and his wife Angela were also able to personally donate four laptops at a cost of about $2,600.

The school is currently being held in a church/community center but plans are to build an Academic Village. The vision for the Academic Village is to “build well-educated and competent young leaders, full of character and integrity with a heart to go back and help their families and villages.”

While Prentiss is joining the fundraiser locally for the second year, Buy A Tree, Change a Life is part of a larger movement. BATCAL is an organization that helps children globally and locally.  Each year people all over the United States purchase Christmas trees. The organization partners with churches around the country to raise funds each year.

Through the direct partnership BATCAL has with People for Care and Learning (pcl.) a humanitarian organization headquartered in Cleveland, Tenn., with roots in the Church of God the purchased tree helps to provide education, care, mentoring, food and housing to children around the world. The organization supports children’s homes, learning centers, schools, families, and feeding programs in some of the areas of the globe that need it the most.

In 2012, a family at Life Pointe Church in Homestead, Fla., was adopting a child from Ethiopia and needed $25,000 for the adoption. The Life Group they attended in the church decided to sell Christmas trees to raise the money, and with 450 Christmas trees sold, the $25,000 was raised.

More than $900,000 has been raised since 2012 for the BATCAL movement. In 2016, 38 churches in 11 states – including Prentiss Church of God –  sold more than 10,000 Christmas trees.

The fundraiser will begin on Black Friday. Chapman said they will be open for business beginning at 11 a.m., and will remain open until 7 p.m. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 12 to 7 p.m. The trees are freshly cut from Cashiers and transported to Franklin. The church is located across from South Macon Elementary at 59 Church Hill Lane.

For more information about the project, visit If individuals or businesses would like to join in the movement and sponsor the local event, contact Randy Stoudemire at 369-3885 or