MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Christmas tree lot owner is giving away the holiday centerpiece to those who cannot afford to buy one.
"I know how COVID’s been and people out of work and family having a rough time. I decided, you know, why not give trees to some of the people that couldn't afford it," explained Larry Jenkins, owner of Jenkins Nursery.
He opened his tree lot in 2012 and it quickly turned into a full-time nursery with landscaping services. Right before every Thanksgiving, though, the front of the property turns into a Christmas tree lot.
"Most time, I will bring all my trees here on an 18-wheeler," explained Jenkins. "This year, I had to go get the trees, I had to stay at the hotel the night before and stay all night. So, I take an extra guy with me, rent a big U-Haul, bring the truck here so it's been a lot more expensive."
"[This year] I could not get as many trees as I usually get. And so I have been to North Carolina, different places and it was hard to find. I probably call 13 different states just trying to find Christmas trees and couldn’t find them," Jenkins said.
Out of the 700 trees he sold for the 2021 season, he gave away several dozen and said the recipients were full of gratitude.
"You see some people shed tears because they're just not used to, nobody's given them nothing like that. And you know, they really appreciate it," said Jenkins. "There’s still some people offering to give me some money and whatnot... and I tell them, 'No, keep it and give it to a kid or whoever needs it,' You know?"
Although this is the first time Jenkins publicized giving trees to those who needed one, Jenkins has helped many in seasons past.
"I have been giving people trees for as many years as I’ve been doing a Christmas tree lot," said Jenkins. "I've seen people come here who have three kids and couldn't afford a Christmas tree and I still gave them one and she didn't have a job and she came back three or four years [later] and said, 'You remember me? I was that person who you gave a Christmas tree. I'm here to buy one this year.' So you know, I believe if you give, it will come back to you. You know? I was just raised that way. You know, my parents would invite everybody to the house and what they had to eat, you could eat, you know?"
He said he hopes his mission inspires others to spread kindness beyond the Christmas season.
"I just do it because that's the right thing to do. You know, that's what this whole world should be doing. You know, helping each other out. You know, especially hard times," he said. "This is something we should be doing year-round not just Christmas, wait for a season, you know? We should help one another all through the whole year. Not just wait for a certain day."