A couple of weeks ago, Jeff Graham and his family showed up at McPherson’s Tree Farm in York, Pennsylvania, driving a rollback, that’s a truck with a 22-foot-long bed meant to hold a vehicle for towing.
One of the employees jokingly asked: How many trees are you buying today? Graham, 36, was only there for the one for his family. But the comment made him think about buying trees for everyone shopping at the farm that day. He wondered if that could be his personal gift this holiday season. But then he thought that if families were there, they were likely already able to afford a Christmas tree.
Jeff had had a few tough months himself at the beginning of the pandemic this year, with little work for his towing business. But, thankfully, things picked up, and he wanted to help community members who were still struggling. So, Graham took his tree that day and made a plan to return. When he did, he brought his wife, daughter and two employees with him. They asked for 30 trees. “At first they looked at me like they didn’t believe it,” Graham said.
But that’s just because in the nearly 70 years of the family operating the farm, no one had ever asked for that many trees before. Gian Walker, great granddaughter of the founder of the farm, Sidney McPherson, said the farm started in the 1950’s as a hobby, and they now have more than 12,000 trees. “For all of those generations, none of us can remember someone doing something like this,” she said.
Gian’s Dad, John Gouker, was also there that day and had to ask Jeff about it, “I don’t mean to be nosy, but what are you going to do with all these trees?” Walker told him that he wanted to provide a gift to others struggling this holiday. “My dad was taken aback, and he got a little choked up,” Walker said. “We’ve never had anybody do something like that.” She added “It was a real honor and a privilege to be a part of this.”
Then with all hands on deck, and 90 minutes later, the truck was loaded up with trees. Jeff had put out a notification on Facebook the day before that he would be giving away trees at a parking lot, and when he, his family, and employees showed up to hand out the trees there were already people waiting.
It’s a year that sees so many struggling to the point where a Christmas tree is truly out of reach, and a well received gift. But that wasn’t all they were giving out. Each tree came with an envelope and a candy cane.
One woman who came for a tree gratefully accepted it, the envelope and the candy cane, and when she got to her car to open the envelope and found that it contained a generous gift card she had to go back to offer more tearful thanks.
“That one woman right there, that made it all worth it,” he said. “That was the feeling you were going for.”
That is your Good News Story of the Day, which you can read in full here. But Jeff summed up the experience, “We were all happy. Everybody was happy. If nobody else showed up, that one lady, that made it all worth it,” he said. Sometimes you just need to touch one heart.
Story and Image from USA Today.