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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Giving trees

Many of us think of pine trees as something under which to place Christmas gifts. But for the Hansen family, the trees are the gifts. This year, on top of donating Christmas trees to their congregation, St. Anthony Park Lutheran, St. Paul, Minn., and to churches of several other denominations, the Hansens donated 30 acres of 100-year-old trees to help provide timber for nearly 30 Habitat for Humanity homes.

The donation was initiated by Mark Hansen, a research forester, who helped organize Forests for Humanity, which — with donations from landowners, loggers and truckers — assists Habitat by bringing the material needed to build homes for those in need.

"Our mom and dad bought the property in the 1950s," said David Hansen, Mark's brother who is a photojournalist and part owner of the land. "It was time to harvest the land, and this seemed like the perfect project."

Some of the wood was also donated to Log-A-Load, which supports special medical care for children.

The Hansens didn't touch the acres of forest near a log cabin Mark and David built in 1975, and 40 volunteers replanted the harvested area.

Because the forest will take another century to mature, this is a one-time donation. But the Hansens' Christmas tree farm, which is in a different location, will continue donating holiday trees to congregations.

Started by Henry Hansen in 1952, it's become an annual tradition that before the farm is open to the public (traditionally the day after Thanksgiving), members from area churches are invited to select a tree for their sanctuary. "After they choose, we cut them down, wrap them so they don't dry out, and then we have a bonfire and a hot-dog roast," David Hansen said.

"We have about 900 customers each year," he added, "but the farm is more a hobby for us. It's a way to share and have fun with our families and with those around us."


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