Christmas lives on

56_christmas_01The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity for the fourth consecutive year to help build an affordable home.

The 78th annual Christmas tree was milled into lumber in Rockefeller Center and will be used for the framing of exterior walls of a home built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, located in the mid-Hudson Valley of New York, which is near the community of Mahopac where the tree grew.

"This lumber is so valuable because it will help a hard-working family in need of decent housing to own their own home," says Marci Gurton, the chapter's director of development. "The special nature of this gift also raises awareness about the critical need for affordable housing in our community and the ongoing efforts for neighborhood revitalization."

Habitat Newburgh focuses its work in the east end of the city, improving the area street by street by renovating abandoned houses and building new homes in partnership with low-income families. Newburgh is one of the most distressed urban areas in the country. To date, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh has built or rehabilitated 43 houses that 225 children and adults now call home and has added more than $8.3 million to assessed property values.

"The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is a symbol of the holiday season for millions of people across the country and around the world," says Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. "Habitat for Humanity is both humbled and proud to have an ongoing role in this great tradition and, with the help of volunteers, we will see that the lumber is put to good use to bring hope to a family in the form of better housing."

Habitat used the 2007 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lumber to help build a home in Pascagoula, Miss., in partnership with a Hurricane Katrina survivor. Lumber from the 2008 tree was used to help build shelving in a multi-unit building constructed by Habitat for Humanity New York City. The 2009 Rockefeller Christmas tree lumber was used in the construction of a home in Stamford, Conn.

This article originally appeared in the February 2011 issue.