Early Christmas present for locals who need tree

Posted at 1:28 PM, Dec 24, 2015

It's better to give than to receive.  At least that's what the volunteers on Elmwood Avenue said as they gave out free Christmas trees to those in need Thursday.

The Christmas Eve tradition has been going on for nearly 30 years and it allows some the opportunity  to celebrate, who otherwise wouldn’t.

“My kids really wanted Christmas and this year we just thought... you know it was just [going to be] another day.” Pam Kuzemzky said. “They wanted Christmas so badly and you know all we have is a tree this year, so it means a real lot to us.”

Shaniah Paige is also bringing home a tree but for her family it means much more.

“It’s a very hard time, you know, having a family I really couldn’t afford a tree. Even an artificial is more than $100 [so] I’m very appreciative.”

And over time this has become a tradition not just for those bringing home the trees but those handing them out.

“This is something I’ve been doing for a while now,” Mike Kollmar said. “As my kids got older I incorporated my kids into it and it’s kind of become a family thing.”

For many in Western New York money is tight, especially during the holidays. 

“At the end of the day when you look through life’s cycle we have our ups and downs,” former Erie County Legislator Chuck Swanick said. “When people have a down you have to be there to help.”

The trees are donated by local Christmas tree farms and shops but this year they’ve been harder to come by.

“Trees have just been selling at a record rate. People don't mind going out to buy a tree when it's 65 degrees and balmy out,” Swanick said. “Sellers and growers, they've had a very successful year and we're very happy for that but it has left a very small window of trees for us to hand out this year.”

But even with a shortage of trees, Swanick and the other volunteers managed to hand out dozens. It's another example of Western New York giving back.

“Ain't no place like Buffalo,” Dave Kyzer said. “You might go to different places and different cities but there's no place like home.”




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