MIAMI COUNTY — Like a cue from the heavens, Operation Christmas Cheer carted approximately 100 Christmas trees as snow fell on the grounds of the Ohio Masonic Home in Springfield on Tuesday morning.
The annual event encourages families and businesses to decorate artificial Christmas trees or wreaths to donate to various shut-ins to help spread some holiday spirit.
This year, Operation Christmas Cheer donated the trees to the Masonic Home.
“This is our third year and the first year to do it for the Masonic Home. They’ve been very appreciative and enjoying the trees already,” Lisa Kendall-Maxson shared. “I love seeing their faces light up and I know there’s a need for people who might not be in the holiday spirit. I know how it brought me a lot of joy when I was in a dark time.”
The idea for Operation Christmas Cheer came from the small Ohio State University-themed Christmas tree that Kendall-Maxson had in her hospital room at the James Cancer Center in Columbus. Her husband’s aunt gave her the tree while she was hospitalized following a stem-cell transplant procedure during the holidays in 2011.
Away from her home and her family, Kendall-Maxson shared how that small, artificial Christmas tree inspired her to spread some holiday cheer to others through the annual Operation Christmas Cheer event.
“We had about a 100 trees this year. We had Fairlawn’s student council, teachers from various schools, individuals, people who did this at their Thanksgiving parties and lots of families,” Kendall-Maxson said. “We always have a great turnout and people really enjoy doing it every year.”
Kendall-Maxson was joined by her father, Tom Kendall, family and friends, as well as the Fairlawn student council to help distribute the trees to the Masonic Home residents.
Approximately 16 members of the Fairlawn Middle School student council sang Christmas carols to the residents as they delivered the trees to make the event even more festive.
Fairlawn Middle School teacher Stacy Hamaker accompanied the students, who took time out of their school day to make the season bright. Hamaker said the students wanted to get more involved and be part of the process.
“We really wanted to do it,” said Lexi Graves, an eighth grader. “We wanted to see who got our trees, too.”
Eighth grader Ashley Roush pointed out the five trees the Fairlawn student council decorated for the program. “We did trees last year, but this year we wanted to help pass them out and see who we were helping,” Roush said.
“Our adviser brought us ornaments, so we decorated them and we did five trees and helped each other,” said Kylee Ginter. “It was really fun coming out to help.”
“I think it’s fun because we like helping people and bring joy to the them. I thought this would be fun to do,” said Karizma Huelskamp. “I’m glad we could help.”
More than 400 residents reside at the Ohio Masonic Home campus.
The program has donated more than 450 trees to various organizations throughout the Miami Valley in its three years.
For more information about Operation Christmas Cheer, search for the event on Facebook.
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