Starting Monday, Nov. 20, tents at Destiny Community Church’s Newberry and Trenton campuses will be open for business, selling Christmas trees for a cause. The fundraiser, called “Buy a Tree, Change a Life,” directs all profits to organizations that support children.
Last year, the Newberry site sold 450 trees in eight days, raising over $112,000, according to Alexis Meacham, DCC’s finance manager. Half the money went to People for Care and Learning, supporting children in Cambodia. The other half went to programs for local children, including $20,000 to Sira Pregnancy Center, $20,000 to Foster Florida, $6,000 to Rhet Cooper’s Miracle and the rest to local schools for supplies and other needs.
“I do think it’s pretty awesome, the impact that’s made. I mean, over $112,000 in eight days is a big deal,” Meacham said in a phone interview.
This year, the church is aiming even higher.
DCC recently opened a campus in Trenton, so it will have a tent there as well. The Trenton tent will start with 100 trees and the Newberry campus with 500, though the two will share distribution if needed.
Before the trees arrive in Newberry, business sponsors have covered all overhead costs so DCC will be able to send 100% of profit and donations to help children.
The trees are priced competitively with other area sellers, and customers have the option of donating an amount of their choice when they check out. Donors can be entered into drawings for prizes, and each day DCC will reward the day’s top donor with their own reward.
“There’s different incentives for paying above and beyond the tree,” Meacham said, “but many people just do it because they want to donate to the cause, and then if they win something it’s kind of just an added bonus.”
Buy a Tree, Change a Life is a national nonprofit that started in Homestead in 2012 when a family needed to raise $25,000 to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Their church life group sold 450 Christmas trees to reach the goal, then founded a nonprofit to expand the idea, raising almost $8 million across 21 states in the last 10 years, according to its website.
DCC got involved in 2021, and Meacham said her favorite part of the event is how quickly the church made it part of its culture, eager to take a shift in the tent and be involved.
While DCC’s tree prices are highly competitive with stores in the area, Meacham said the experience of the Buy a Tree, Change a Life tent is another major draw. The smell of the trees, a refreshment bar with hot chocolate, bounce houses, a photo booth and a children’s area for writing letters to Santa all add to the festive “Hallmark movie vibes” of the tent.
This year for the first time, DCC’s Christmas tree tent will also sell ornaments made by inmates at the Florida Women’s Reception Center, who watch the church’s services on livestream and wanted to participate in the fundraiser.
The tents will be open until they run out of trees, from noon until 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, closed Thursday for Thanksgiving, and open again Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 6 p.m. If there are still trees left to sell, they will follow the same hours the next week.
On Dec. 1, the DCC will host a food truck rally to celebrate the fundraiser’s completion. The event will be under the tent and open to the public, both to celebrate the money raised and the Christmas season.