COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — For the second year in a row, Duane Young's vision of creating an artificial tree farm for families with special needs is becoming a reality.
Young said his daughter inspired him after they realized they could no longer have a real Christmas tree.
"Our kids had some respiratory, asthma-type issues, and just we couldn't have the real tree," explained Young. "And we didn't realize how emotional it would be to stop a tradition of getting a real tree."
After the family went on the hunt to find the perfect artificial tree, they also stumbled upon the perfect way to help others in their shoes.
"My daughter says, 'Dad, we need to do this for other people; we need to continue this.' There's so many other kids that, you know, want to get a real tree, or have the experience of getting a real tree but can't have it. And she says, 'We can turn us into something bigger and special for everybody.' And, and it worked. It worked."
This year, they've partnered with Coopersville United Methodist Church to make the event bigger and better.
"I think that idea is brilliant, I really do. And I think it's going to meet a need that hasn't really been addressed for a very long time. So I'm hoping that a lot of families can really be blessed by this creative event," said Pastor Cory Conran. "We've been receiving reservations from families with children with autism, so they can't handle lots of lights and sounds. We have children that are not mobile, that are in wheelchairs or things like that, that wouldn't do well on a tree farm. Breathing issues, asthma, things like that, that they can't handle the tree pollen."
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Conran said at least 80 trees will be available at the church during the event on Saturday, Dec. 4.
Christmas decorations, lights and goodies will also be given out.
"Families are going to be able to come set up a time slot from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., where they can come and have a catered-to-them experience," said Conran. "[It's] just going to be a really great time to make those kinds of memories for these wonderful families."
Young, who is a big fan of the holidays, is hoping to make the season bright for as many people as possible.
"I love Christmas, the just joy and spirit of the whole thing. The happiness it brings, you know. This time of year, it just brings out a different feel," he said. "I just want to make sure that if we can help, you know, spread that excitement and joy and to everybody."
The church is still looking for donations of Christmas tree decorations and brand-new lights for the event, along with a few more volunteers.
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