Hundreds Receive Free Christmas Trees In Topeka

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Christmas celebrates the spirit of giving and one prominent Topekan family made the season a little bit warmer for those who are less fortunate.

The owners of Penwell-Gabel Funeral Homes, Crematory & Cemeteries, Ren and Theresa Newcomer, gave away 850 trees to families who might otherwise not be able to afford them. The giveaway has become a tradition, now in it's fourth year.

For the Foster family, it was the first time receiving one.

"The boys thought it was awesome, because it was the biggest one [we've had," Zora Foster, the oldest of seven, said. It was also her family's first live Christmas tree. "It feels more real," she said.

"For those who don't have much this year, and a live tree at that, I thought it was a blessing," Mimi Horn said. She came with her family to pick up one one of the fragrant white pines.

"Growing up we didn't have much and it never was a real Christmas tree. By coming out and having a chance to feel the Christmas spirit here and get a tree, I think that's warming the hearts of individuals, that people do care what Christmas is all about," she added. "I love it."

Santa was also on site to make the end of the year a bit sweeter with a word of encouragement and a candy for every child.

Ren and Theresa Newcomer, say Christmas is their favorite time of the year and they want to make it just a little bit warmer for those who have little and those who've lost a loved one.

"The holidays are an important time for me, it's one of my favorite times," Ren Newcomer said, as he helped secure trees onto cars. "But I understand when somebody's lost a loved one, that the holidays can be a very difficult time. So this is our small way of giving back to the community here in Topeka, during the holiday season."

A remembrance ceremony in the late afternoon provided those who've lost a loved one a sense of community.

Tia Alexander was among the attendees who hugged each other close during the ceremony.

"Zachary Alexander is our son, he was eleven years old," she said. "He fought a long, hard battle with brain and spine cancer." Zachary passed away June 30 of last year.

"He loved the holidays, he had such a joy for everything he did and the holidays are definitely very hard," she said.

At this cemetery, it's hoped that families and their loved ones find a little bit of peace this season.