What is a Christmas Tree Worth to You?

What is a Christmas tree worth to you?

According to Rick Dungey, public relations manager of the National Christmas Tree Association, the cost can range from $5 to $500.

"There are so many entities that go into selling trees," Dungey says. "So many shapes, sizes and species, its impossible to tell."

In 2009, the association reported that U.S. consumers purchased 28.2 million farm grown trees and 11.7 million artificial trees. They spent $1.15 billion on real trees and $901 million on fake trees. That's a lot of dough. But this holiday season, David and Michelle Fein are learning that, for many, the symbolic holiday tree is worth more than money can buy.

Earlier this month, the couple from Colorado Springs wanted to get rid of an old Christmas tree, so they posted an ad on Craigslist offering it up to a family in need. Now it’s two weeks later, and their home is covered wall-to-wall with the holiday-symbolic evergreens. And they couldn’t be more cheery about it.

“My house is just full of trees, lights, ornaments,” Michelle says. “You can’t even walk in the garage. We take something like a tree for granted; I never realized what it meant as far as a family, and a home, and just how important it is.”

Within an hour of putting their posting online, they received an outpouring of messages from more than 20 different people, each sharing a story of why they wanted the tree for themselves or their family:

“If this is still available, I would like to get it for my son and grandson. My son is a single dad and is trying to build traditions with his son, but money is tight.”

“I have 6 kids and no tree…we would like it if it’s still available.”

“If this tree is still available I sure could use it. My kids are 6 and 9. We won’t have a lot under it this year but there will be something there.”

“My husband broke his leg 5 weeks ago and we are really struggling. We need a tree desperately.”

“It will be my daughter’s first Christmas and we just don’t have the $$ for a tree.”

“I have a boys group home that really can use it..........Let me know.”

Michelle and David gave their tree away to a young couple with a 7-month-old baby, but knew they couldn’t stop there. They then purchased a tree and ornaments for a local group boys' home, and soon friends and family began pitching in to buy more trees for those who couldn’t afford them.

More than 100 community members came forth with their own trees to donate, as well as cash and decorations. In just two weeks, the couple assembled a team of 15 volunteers that have given away more than 100 trees, sending one to a family as far as West Virginia . With just a few days till Christmas, the Feins continue to receive detailed emails from those looking for a tree this year.

“The incredible generosity of the people in this town has just been amazing,” David says. “I have realized there are faces behind those unemployment numbers, and it’s just so heartbreaking. People have been so open about what is going on in their lives.”

**Those looking to donate can reach the Feins at ChristmasTreeProject2010@gmail.com