Refutrees: Buying Christmas Trees to Support Refugees

Published on December 19th 2019
A person standing next to a tree
Buying a Christmas tree is one of the most common Christmas traditions across the country. Without a tree, is it even really Christmas? The Bristol-based charity Aid Box Community (ABC) decided to use the custom to their advantage.
They decided to fund their efforts with Christmas trees: people can get a tree and donate to the cause at the same time. The charity supports refugees with a free shop and a safe space to come to.
Netty Miles, a manager for ABC, says: “The beauty of the thing is that we offer something that people will buy anyway. It is a great way to help out if you are looking for a way to contribute.”
This year marks the fourth time that ABC is offering Christmas trees. “It has grown every year. This time we have more volunteers than ever”, said Miles.
The trees are all Abies Nordmanniana, or Nordmann fir, a fir species that hardly drops needles. The charity buys them from a local forestry and advises people to recycle them after Christmas. Growing trees for harvest is better for the environment than any other crop, according to the forestry, as they stay on the land all year, unlike other cash crops. This allows for year-round CO2 absorption.
“We have a lot of people coming in worried about us killing the trees, when they should be more worried about the people we are trying to help here”, said Miles.
All the money made from the trees will go to electricity and heat to keep the charity open and running throughout 2020.
An anonymous service user urged people to help out. “If the centre has to close down, I will have nothing left”, they say. “People like me had to start from scratch when we got here. The charity has helped so much, having people who respect us and treat us with dignity means the world.”
ABC doesn’t just offer free clothes. They have women’s groups, events and a hub where people can come and talk about their experiences or just anything that’s on their minds.
“It is a real community. It means so much just to be able to have a normal conversation or to wear clothes that look decent. I experience a level of respect here that you don’t find anywhere else in Bristol”, says the service user.
You can help out and get your Christmas tree at ABC on Cheltenham Road in Bristol until the 22nd of December. If you can’t make it to the shop you can also phone in or order them online, they will deliver a tree to your house.
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