The New York Christmas Tree That Changes Lives All Year

Once it’s done at the Rockefeller Center, the iconic Christmas tree goes on to even more important work.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in all its glory (Chris Parypa Photography / 

Every year during the holiday season, an estimated 500,000 people flock to the Rockefeller Center to see the massive, iconic Christmas Tree. But it’s in January, after all the tinsel has been taken down and the crowds have dispersed, that the tree does its most important work. The trunks are milled, treated and made into lumber that the owner and operator of Rockefeller Center donates to Habitat for Humanity. Not a single twig goes to waste: in 2016, parts of the tree that couldn’t be turned into lumber were used to make special paper for a commemorative bookplate that can be placed inside copies of The Carpenter’s Gift - a Christmas story about the good doing tree.

So what exactly does the wood get up to once it’s been cut up? Habitat for Humanity builds and renovates homes around the world, in an effort to help people avoid homelessness. In recent years, lumber from Rockefeller Center Christmas trees has been used to help build homes in Pascagoula, Mississippi; New York City; Stamford, Connecticut; and Newburgh, New York - keeping the holiday spirit alive and well all year round.

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