A new holiday tradition is just around the corner with the introduction of People for Care and Learning’s “Buy a Tree, Change a Life” fundraiser.
“It is a very simple concept,” said Ivey Lawrence, director of events and logistics. “We are selling trees on Raider Drive, across from Cleveland High School by the Greenway. We will be selling them from Nov. 28 through Dec. 12 (from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.).”
All of the proceeds support PCL’s House of Hope and the Bob and Clara Pace Children’s Home orphanages found in Siem Reap and Phnom Phenh, Cambodia. There are currently 46 orphans varying in ages from childhood through college at the two establishments. Lawrence explained the nonprofit commits to financially support the young wards through their last day of higher education.
Both homes are currently at capacity.
Lawrence said the Christmas tree fundraiser will ensure the continued existence and growth of the two orphanages.
The idea is to let Cleveland have fun while raising money for those in need.
“It is not just a Christmas tree sale. There will also be Christmas movies played every single weeknight on a big projector,” Lawrence said. “And then live music every weekend. It is going to be fun. We will have a snow machine.”
Movies will be available free of charge to the public every weeknight at 6. The lineup includes: “Elf,” “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Santa Clause.” Specific movies played each day can be found at www.facebook.com/buyatreecleveland. Musical performances will be by local bands at 6 p.m. on the weekends.
Refreshments will be provided free of charge to individuals and families with the purchase of a tree. Tree prices and sizes include: $30, less than 5 feet; $40, 5-6 feet; $50, 6-7 feet; $60, 7-8 feet; $70, 8-9 feet; $80, 9-10 feet; $100, 10-11 feet; and $120, 11-plus feet. Refreshments may be purchased by those only interested in enjoying the movie and live performances.
There will be four additional locations selling Christmas trees for PCL’s children’s homes throughout the South. They are found in Homestead, Fla., through Life-Point Church; Sevierville through New Hope Church; Snellville, Ga., through Hope and Life Church; and DeLand, Fla., through The Sanctuary.
Lawrence cited the children’s homes as her favorite outreaches provided through PCL.
“I think a lot of times when people think of orphanages they think of places where people stay for a year or two before they get adopted out. Cambodia is a completely different situation because its adoption process is closed,” Lawrence said. “So that means kids can only be adopted by fellow Cambodians, but in a Third World country, that doesn’t happen often.”
Added Lawrence, “So when they take in an orphan, they are ours.”
Many of the young charges do not fall under the typical definition of the word orphan. Many of their parents may still be alive. It is more apt to describe the children as abandoned. Lawrence said it is common for women in Southeast Asia to leave their children.
“The primary way we find and accept the children into our homes has much to do with our orphanage directors in both communities,” Lawrence said. “Because of the outreach activities we do in the surrounding villages — like water filter distribution and the feeding center — they will stumble upon orphans.”
Children accepted into the home are provided with supplementary learning opportunities like learning English and Thai. They are also expected to participate in community outreach activities. Many young charges enter higher education for opportunities like medical school, culinary arts or the hospitality industry.
College students and old members are always welcomed to come back to visit the home — especially since “home” is what the charges know the two locations as.
Added Lawrence, “[The orphanages are] something we as staff love, because we know our kids and we get to watch them grow up.”
More information on the orphanages can be found at peopleforcare.org.