Courtesy of CNN.com
Instead of throwing their trees away, many people are donating them to a 50-year-old Texan U.S. Army veteran man Jamie Willis, as he uses them to further his service toward other veterans. He turns the trees that are donated to him into canes for veterans.
Fox News article Army veteran recycles Christmas trees into canes by Hunter Davis said, “Jamie Willis is a Desert Storm vet who suffered a back injury during his eight years off service. After the Veterans Affairs hospital gave him a diagnosis of 100-percent disability, Willis has since relied on a cane to walk. That inspired his non-profit, Canes for Veterans Central Texas.”
Willis started this operation in 2016, and has made and donated over 200 canes to veterans.
This past Christmas of 2019, when he asked people to donate so he could make canes for 2020, the response was over 1,000 trees donated to him. Home Depot and Lowes also participated in the donations of Christmas trees.
“Once the trees are donated, crews would cut off the limbs and leave the trees to dry out,” said Fox News Article Army veteran recycles Christmas trees into canes by Hunter Davis. “Once the trees dried, Willis would strip the bark off and attach handles to them, add coats of polyurethane and ship them off to people in need. Willis said he learned the process from Oscar De Vere Morris, the owner of a group called Free Canes for Veterans.”
In CNN article A Texas man is making canes for veterans using hundreds of donated Christmas trees by Alaa Elassar, Willis said, “I do this so I don’t sit home all day feeling sorry for myself. This is all out of kindness. I do everything out of pocket and from donations.”
Since he has to wait four to six months for the trees to properly dry and it usually takes him about a day to make a cane and package it and everything, Willis probably won’t be able to make all the trees into canes in 2020, yet he is still very grateful for the donations.