“You can see how buying a Christmas tree, in this case, can change a child’s life,” Jaime Milford said.
She is the mother of a young cancer survivor and founded the Victorious Reagan & Friends Foundation to provide financial assistance to families affected by childhood cancer. The “BUY A TREE. CHANGE A LIFE.” the organization was its platform.
Specifically, the chapter of the Oasis Church in Hephzibah has been helping since its inception in 2014, two years after it was established by a family in Florida who wanted to adopt an Ethiopian child. The family church sold Christmas trees for $ 25,000, and soon other churches were invited to follow their example.
Oasis Senior Pastor Wesley Weatherford said, “I’ve been watching it for about a year, and I’m like, ‘Man, when we can do it, I wanna do it. “So when we moved into this building, we were like, ‘Dude, we’ve got the property, we’ve got the campus, let’s buy a tree. Let’s change a life.’
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The campus is located on State Route 88 off of US Highway 25, and its open field offers plenty of space for dozens of trees that are housed under a tent decorated with string lights, stockings, and a outdoor fireplace for a festive experience.
Oasis sells its trees every day from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. until exhaustion. During her lifetime, the church raised nearly $ 400,000 with her trees, all of which go to nonprofits in the area or to learning centers and church houses in Cambodia.
A local beneficiary is Hope House, a residential facility that helps women and children in Augusta cope with addiction and mental health issues. Chaz Butler, its director of compliance and development, said Oasis used the funds from the tree to host much-needed birthday parties for the families Hope House supports.
“You see all these kids, from one year old to 13 years old, who just lived a different life… some of them never had a birthday party, they never knew what it is. that to have a day is especially for them, “said Butler.” To have this birthday where they had so many presents, cakes and balloons to take home, if it is their memory that they have when they leave Hope House, then that’s all we can ask for. “
Oasis tree sales have also benefited Camp Lakeside, which offers a variety of outdoor programs for children along Thurmond Lake in Lincolntonm Ga. Camp District Director Charlie Prescott said Oasis is there. had contributed to other programs of the Family YMCA of Greater Augusta.
“Their support helped provide scholarships for children to attend camp, it also helped A Place to Dream where we give beds to CSRA children who need them,” Prescott said. “It also contributes to our food program, Cheryl’s Kitchen. “
The Milford Foundation has a particular focus on helping families who are being treated at the Georgia Children’s Hospital in Augusta.
“I think a lot of people think, especially in the cancer world, that they see a lot of things on St. Jude,” she said. “It doesn’t directly help our community, but when you directly help your community, you see those faces, it makes a ton of difference.”
These are just a few of the groups Oasis Trees has supported, and it’s part of what has kept longtime volunteers like Chris Godbee and Jarvis Wilson coming back to help.
“What’s not so exciting about helping kids? Godbee asked.
“That alone is the best thing,” Wilson said. “That we can help people who can’t really help themselves and that we can have fun doing it.”
If goodwill isn’t enough to encourage people, Oasis has competition too. For every $ 10 more than the price of a tree donated by a donor, they will be entered into the draw for a brand new golf cart. The church also has a daily “Rock Box” where the donor who pays the most the price of a tree will be celebrated on site and on the church’s social networks.
But the competition for this tree sale does not stop there.
“Six years ago we came up with the idea of ’What if we crowned the heavyweight champion of Buy A Tree. Change A Life. For the site that raises the most money?’,” Weatherford said. “For three years in a row we’ve won the belt and then in the last three years Pathway Church in Mobile has won the belt.”
The pastor said that last year Pathway raised $ 107,000 so they have a long way to go, but they are confident this year they can return the belt to its rightful place.