‘Buy a tree, change a life’ sparks local church’s global mission

Freedom House Church, 132 Lovell Road across from Costco, is ministering to children locally and across the globe with its Buy A Tree Change A Life ministry project.

“I feel like it’s a great way to give back,” said Brenda Starnes, church member and the project’s site director. “I was raised in rural West Virginia, and we did not have much, so I feel like this project is a great way for me, personally, to help others in need when I know how that feels.”

For the church, the Buy A Tree Change A Life project is a Christmas tree fundraiser, but “We don’t keep any of the proceeds,” Starnes said. “All the proceeds go directly to organizations to help children.

“We split (the money raised) between a local organization of our choice, which for the last few years has been Second Harvest Food Bank’s Food for Kids program,” she added. “Then the global portion goes to an organization called People for Care and Learning. They help support a school in Israel, an orphanage in Guatemala and they helped build a city in Cambodia.”

Freedom House Church will hold its tree sales event, starting from around noon to 5 p.m., Nov. 21, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

“We’re open until our trees sell out, probably three to five days,” she said, noting people do not need to pre-order the trees.

“We will begin advertising on our social media … and let people know what our hours are,” Starnes added. But she explained, “Our trees are delivered from North Carolina, so we’re never exactly sure what time they’re going to be delivered until they call and say, ‘We’re on our way.’ Typically, we just put signage out and hope that people see us.”

Starnes expects to be getting 103 trees, which is less than the 300 the church usually gets.

PCL is a community of people “devoted to breaking the cycle of poverty through a holistic approach by focusing on five areas: education, children, housing, farming and business,” she said.

“There are 77 sites across the nation that do this,” Starnes added. “We started doing it because we feel that it’s important to take care of the community and take care of those in need in the world.

“A lot of what these organizations do is to help feed children, teach children skills, make sure children get a good education, and that’s part of something our church really cares about.”

Church office hours are from 9 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday. For more information about the Buy a Tree project, call Starnes at 1-423-368-9064 or send an e-mail to altobren@gmail.com