Aloha UMC provides Christmas trees for community
This time of year, Keren Rodriguez is likely to show up for all sorts of appointments with Christmas trees in the back of her car.
She’s not trying to carry off that authentic Christmas-tree-smelling air freshener, she’s simply busy helping her congregation at Aloha United Methodist Church provide Christmas cheer to families in need.
“I really value the way our faith community shows up,” Rodriguez said.
This is Aloha UMC’s second year of giving away Christmas trees thanks to a congregant who is owner of Plumper Pumpkin Patch and Tree Farm. After a successful pumpkin patch at the church in the fall of 2021, Rodriguez said the church was trying to decide what kind of community outreach to do at Christmas.
She said the owner of the pumpkin patch provided 15 trees at no cost to the church the first week, then the next week added 20 more until, in 2021 the church gave away 65 trees to not just families, but local organizations such as Adelante Mujeres and the Western Farm Workers Association that work with migrant and low-income families.
“It was just really cool to see all of their faces as they picked out Christmas trees,” Rodriguez said.
This year, Aloha UMC ended up with 50 Christmas trees families were either able to come pick out or they were able to deliver to local non-profits. In addition to the trees, Aloha UMC is in its second year of hosting Black Santa PDX, a non-profit run by Leroy Barber, a former staffer with the GNW Area Innovation Vitality team. Because of Black Santa PDX, Aloha UMC was also able to help put Christmas presents in the hands of families who might not otherwise have them.
Working with Adelante Mujeres, Rodriguez said there are a lot of youth who are living without their parents – mostly with relatives – and have been in need of Christmas cheer.
“A lot of them are in housing situations where they don’t have parents,” Rodriguez said. “They don’t have a budget for Christmas trees.”
Rodriguez is proud of the way her local church is developing relationships with the community that are centered around providing services for those who are often living on the margins. She hopes the church continues to develop a reputation for good.