WHITELAND, Ind. (Dec. 17, 2014) -- A central Indiana man is on a mission to make sure struggling families have a Christmas tree.
Chuck Welch runs a tree stand in Whiteland off U.S. with his family. He and his wife Jenny started giving away trees to customers in 2001 when a few customers asked Welch if he could help them buy one.
“They’re expensive,” Welch admitted. “I had three customers in a row needing a tree.”
He said he was afraid if he kept handing them out he wouldn’t make any money, but then he got a scolding from his now deceased mother.
"She was like, 'Son! You’d never better let somebody leave without a Christmas tree,’” he recalled. “She was a very giving person and I think she just gave me that trait to be giving so she'd be very proud.”
Last year, Welch said he gave away 17. This year, he’s handed out eight and expects a busy weekend.
He’s actually hoping struggling families come out to his stand so he can help.
“Come down and just say, 'Hey, we need a little help with the Christmas tree,' and really, there’s no questions asked, no embarrassment, or anything like that.”
So how does he pay for all those free trees?
For every tree sold, Welch puts a dollar in a bucket. Customers who hear about what he’s doing have also been donating.
“You know it doesn’t cost me that much. It’s a business. So for the cost of the tree we kinda take money out of the bucket to pay for that tree,” Welch explained. “It’s just as rewarding when you know we know a customer’s leaving happy and you know they got a free tree and we kind of made their Christmas special.”
If you’re in need of a tree but can’t afford one, Welch has about 65 pines left and is open through Sunday.