By: Joey Uva
A couple weeks ago I wrote about being a teenager and having a very sad and lonely Christmas. It was the kindness of an unknown person who left a Christmas tree on my car one night that gave me hope and got me through a very tough time in my life.
After I wrote that blog, I had several individuals ask me, “Have you ever given anyone a Christmas tree or thought about making that your tradition?” I have done various things to give back to those less fortunate than myself, but I have never given anyone a Christmas tree during the holiday season. I immediately called Trevor; we discussed whom we could give a Christmas tree to and agreed that this is something we must do. The first email I sent was to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Youth Center. I knew they had a facility for homeless youth. In my email I provided a brief bio and a link to the blog.
About three hours after I sent my email I received a call from a nice young lady named Corri letting me know that they received my email and would love to have a Christmas tree for the Youth Center. We talked about the size limitations of the tree, getting the tree fire retardant as that was a requirement, and scheduling a delivery date. After a couple more emails and phone calls, it was set; Trevor and I would now be donating a Christmas tree to the Youth Housing Center. The tree was to be delivered on December 9th at 4:30pm.
As I sat there thinking about donating the Christmas tree, I thought, they probably don’t have any ornaments, lights, a tree skirt or stand. I sat down at the computer and drafted an email to some of our very close friends. I explained about my most recent blog, the email to the center, and the donation of the tree. I asked my friends to help me make this bigger by donating lights and ornaments. No sooner than I could walk away from the computer did I start to get responses that they would love to help. Trevor and I have some really amazing friends. I really feel you get what you put out there, and our friends show me that every single day. Trevor and I spent the next few days scheduling times to pick up the lights and ornaments; some friends dropped them off directly at our house to save us a trip. I went to the store and bought a nice tree skirt. It was all set; we had everything the Youth Housing Center needed to decorate a tree.
It was December 9th, Trevor and I were on our way to buy the Christmas tree for the center. We arrived at the Christmas tree lot and found the perfect tree. We had the tree loaded onto the top of the car and headed to the center with the tree, ornaments, and lights in tow. We arrived at the Youth Housing Center and parked. Trevor and I entered the building and went to the front desk. I announced myself to the guard, why we were there and asked if he could phone Corri. There was a man standing there who introduced himself as the director and said that Corri was stuck in a meeting but he was there to help us with the tree. He said the youth were all very excited as they were told a tree was coming at 4:30pm and some of them were waiting by the windows. I got a little emotional but kept my composure. I told myself, don’t cry Joey! I told him we also had our friends donate lights and ornaments, and now they had everything they needed. The director kept thanking us and said he was planning on trying to buy stuff for the tree but now he did not have to, he thanked us again. We went to the 2nd floor where the Youth Housing Center was located; we went into the living room to put the tree, ornaments, and lights down. Within a couple minutes we were surrounded by youth and staff members with smiles and comments of thanks. It was really great. The coordinator offered us a tour of the facility; they have a full chef’s kitchen, living room, and dining room. The bedrooms hold four beds (bunk beds) each, and each room has its own bathroom. The coordinator said they try to make it as home-like as possible and that they will be having a homemade Christmas dinner –and now they will have a tree too. The youth planned a little decorating party for the following Saturday morning.
As I said before, I have never been able to say thank you to that unknown person who gave me that Christmas tree. Well 27 years later, On December 9, 2010, I was able to say “Thank You” in the very best way possible. This was more than a Christmas tree; this is how it was supposed to be.