New Christmas Tree program makes holidays bright

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: Samantha Blakely gives a hug to Landyn Willey, who gave her a plate of cookies, while Cheryl Christensen watches as she holds a Christmas Tree.

By Brooke Curley

THATCHER – For some families, buying a Christmas tree is not a possibility. But last Sunday, a tree, some cookies, and the fellowship of the community all came to 25 families in need.

Cheryl Christensen contacted Gila Valley Central last Sunday and explained the new program. Working within the Gila Valley through various Arizona at Work programs, and the Department of Economic Security, Christensen and the Christmas Tree 4 Christmas group selected 25 families in need to receive a Christmas tree, decorations, and stockings.

A Tree 4 Christmas is a volunteer organization that specializes in collecting donations and distributes Christmas trees and kits to families in need. Based in the Sierra Vista area in Cochise County, this is the first time the organization has worked within of the Gila Valley.

Brooke Curley Photo/Gila Valley Central: These Christmas ornaments were organized and labeled to go with a certain tree.

Christensen told Gila Valley Central that since the idea was so new to the Gila Valley, she had her doubts if anyone would actually utilize the opportunity. However, there was no shortage of individuals who would appreciate a tree for Christmas.

“They said well let’s get Safford on our list and see what happens,” Christensen said. “We just handed out the fliers and took the requests. This is all a new thing. We weren’t sure how Safford would look receive it, and if we even would have requests. But I told an individual on the Facebook Moms page, and we got so many requests I had to take it down.”

Mellissa and James Cruphall picked up their Christmas Tree on Sunday and expressed to Gila Valley Central how grateful they were for the nonprofit program. The couple is taking care of an elderly parent with cancer and have also struggled with unemployment. Although Christmas will be sparse for the couple’s children, Mellissa and James take happiness in the fact that they will have a Christmas Tree.

“We both are unemployed right now and wanted to show the kids a Christmas Tree and the lights,” Mellissa said. “If anything else, they can have the Christmas Tree around. We were surprised we were asked, but we really appreciate that there is something like this for the needy the in the community who needs a Christmas Tree.”

James later said simply that if the A Tree 4 Christmas organization had not donated them a tree, the Cruphall family wouldn’t have had one this year.

Anyone interested in working with the A Tree 4 Christmas organization can find the group on Facebook by clicking here. Also, the public may contact Christensen by emailing her at her Hotmail account, You may also visit the A Tree 4 Christmas website by clicking here.