Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2019 10:00 am
By KAITLIN GEBBY
Habitat for Humanity is celebrating the Christmas season starting today, with the display of their newly decorated Christmas trees at the ReStore in Cleveland.
Deborah Flower, known as “The Christmas Lady,” has volunteered with Habitat since 2010. Flower said she collects ornaments and donated decorations year round for the annual Tree Trimming Party, where a bundle of trees are dropped off, lights are strung and ornaments are hung on trees to benefit the ReStore and Habitat.
“Once the trees are dropped off and the lights are up, I let my creative friends get to work,” she said.
The annual Tree Trimming Party was held on Tuesday with volunteers decorating trees, but the efforts started on Saturday with volunteers from Silverdale Baptist Church in Chattanooga.
Meta McGuire, manager of donor engagement at Habitat of Cleveland, is a member of Silverdale Baptist Church and said the effort is part of a larger project to get members and other residents in the community volunteering. Saturday’s volunteer efforts were part of the church’s Serve the City Day, where 1,300 volunteers worked on projects in Cleveland, Chattanooga and northern Georgia.
Flower said around 10 volunteers went to work on Tuesday, decorating the trees whose sizes range from tabletop to 16-feet-tall.
“We really try to create something for everyone,” she said. “And we don’t get to all the trees either. We do as many as we can, display them at the center of the store, and leave the rest as they were to be purchased, decorated and loved by another family.”
The Christmas trees sold at the ReStore help Habitat pay for the construction of homes in Bradley County. With building costs at around $75,000 per home, according to McGuire, Habitat strives to pay for and build up to six homes per year. This year, the organization has completed four homes and plans to complete another four in 2020.
With that comes fundraising. The ReStore alone makes up about 40% of Habitat’s annual budget, McGuire said. Flower added that the tree sales at the ReStore last year made up as much as two-thirds of the cost of building a single home through Habitat.
“Deb Flower and her team of volunteers have made a lasting impact in our community through the generous donation of their time, heart and talent,” said LaManda Bowers, volunteer services manager for Habitat. “Families in Cleveland are one step closer to strength, stability and independence because of generous Habitat volunteers, such as Deb, who support our mission in various unique ways. Transforming a portion of the ReStore into a Christmas wonderland is just one of many ways to give a hand up for hope in our community through Habitat.”
Flower said the herculean effort of beautifully decorating these trees in a single day wouldn’t be possible without the help of her volunteers.
“And I wouldn’t be known as the Christmas Lady without them,” she said.
The trees are now on display for sale at the ReStore, located at 300 Grove Ave. S.W. The store is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and closed every Sunday.