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Local Families In Need Receive Gift Of Trees
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One of the trees donated to an Oakdale family through the Christmas Tree Project glows brightly, bringing the holiday spirit into the home. Photo Contributed

One never really knows when a simple idea, a kind gesture, may go from simple to grand.

Oakdale community member and business owner Eddie Brown learned that with a quickness last week as he put what seemed a simple idea into action.

Making a trip to Oakdale SaveMart, he purchased five Christmas trees, as well as a few stands, lights and ornaments. His thought simple, to make a post on the Facebook page Oakdale Free/Helping Hands, and offer a Christmas tree to any family in need.

His inspiration, also simple. Eddie Brown shared that, growing up, his family often times did not have a tree and things were tight. Now, with a family of his own and a community which has embraced him and the business he runs with his wife Lauren, 1OAK Health Club, he just simply wanted to give back.

And that he did.

A simple purchase of five trees quickly grew to 18 as the post grew from others offering to pitch in, as well as community members messaging a need for themselves or an Oakdale family they knew personally.

“I really had no idea it would blow up so fast,” Eddie said, noting that he made the post and then texted his wife Lauren to alert her of his idea.

“It did not surprise me,” his wife said of his selfless act. “That’s just Eddie.”

What did surprise her, she said, was how many people did not have Christmas trees.

“I’d never really thought about it. So to see the response and have the ability to bless these families was just really amazing,” she said. “Eddie doesn’t do this sort of thing for recognition, it actually makes him uncomfortable; but seeing how everyone came together and stepped up was truly inspiring.”

The Browns shared while some offered monetary donations of $25, decorations or lights, there was truly no lack of Christmas spirit as they took on what is now known as the Christmas Tree Project.

With their children in tow, the coupled traveled around town on a recent night, dropping off trees in driveways, front yards and on porches.

“I just really wanted to be respectful of their privacy,” Eddie said. “It’s not about me, it’s just about making sure they have a tree. I remember how that felt when I was young. I don’t want other children to have that feeling.”

Inspired by the Brown’s selflessness, a friend reached out sharing they had a complete artificial tree, lights and ornaments they wished to donate. Lauren and Eddie, in turn, knew just the family they wanted to bless with this kindness.

According to the couple, a grandmother who is raising her granddaughter also reached out for a tree. Upon so doing she shared with the Browns that just the night before her granddaughter had prayed that her family would be blessed with a tree and all the trimmings.

“It gives me chills,” Eddie said of the young girl’s prayer. “We’ll be setting them up with the tree and all the fixings donated by our friends.”

“We’ve also adopted them as a family,” Lauren added. “We’ll be delivering gifts to the family as well. We just feel so blessed to be able to do this.”

While the couple, with the help of others, were able to bless 18 families in just close to 24 hours it’s the potential for what it can be which excites them even more. The Brown family plans to now make this an annual event to make sure that not only will families have gifts for the holiday, but Christmas trees as well.

“We plan to have an account set up just for this, with hope of reaching as many Oakdale families as we can,” Lauren said of looking to the next year.

“I’m just grateful,” Eddie said. “These families allowed me to do something for them, which was a result of my own childhood. That’s really special to me.”

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A quick selfie as the husband and wife team of Eddie and Lauren Brown deliver one of the 18 trees donated to Oakdale community members in need last week. Photo Contributed