Tiny Christmas trees make a big difference

Tiny Trees program aimed to give away 1,000 Christmas trees to ETCH patients this December.
Tiny Trees program aims to give away 1,000 Christmas trees to ETCH patients this December.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:22 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2022 at 11:23 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - After spending many nights in East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with her daughter Savannah, Melissa France started the Tiny Trees program to help families that were in the same situation.

“We were admitted a total of 63 nights in the hospital, and our longest stay was 13 days after coming and going,” said France as her daughter was undergoing treatment.

Among those weeks in the hospital, some of those days included Christmas for two years straight which was especially difficult for France.

After France and her daughter left the hospital, they had the idea to start giving three-foot-tall trees away to kids in the hospital around the holidays so they make a hospital room feel a little more festive.

The trees come as donations from people in the area who are trying to make a difference.

“Because you miss Christmas and you’re here, but you’re kind of already celebrating Christmas because you have a tree,” said Noah Sileno, 7.

Sileno is just one of the hundreds of kids to receive a tree last year as he underwent treatment in ETCH. The child explained how much of a difference the tiny tree made.

“It gives people a lot of joy and doesn’t make people feel left out,” said Sileno.

When Tiny Trees started 12 years ago, France said they would have a couple of dozen brought in. Now, they’re aiming to have as many as 1,000 Christmas trees brought to ETCH to give to kids.

“It’s humbling and amazing to see so many people come together. And so many people that desire to have that impact with others,” said France.

The trees will start being given out to kids on Tuesday, Nov. 29.