PAWNEE, Ill. (WICS) — A couple from Pawnee is giving new meaning to the season of giving.
Through their trees with love foundation they're helping provide food and Christmas trees to families in need.
Newschannel 20's Jenn Sullivan introduces us to our November Pay It Forward winner.
For many struggling families in our area, the joys of Christmas are overshadowed by the choice of buying a gift or being able to afford the utility bill.
"It wakes you up and makes you appreciate what you do have," said Matt Crocker with the Trees with Love Foundation.
It's a Christmas tale that goes back a few years when Matt Crocker and his wife overheard a little girl asking her mother for a Christmas tree.
"The mother basically replied in a roundabout way that they couldn't afford it," said Kathleen Crocker, Trees with Love Foundation.
From there Trees with Love was sprung.
"It's kind of our way of giving back and bring a little Christmas joy at this time."
The Crockers began collecting trees and ornaments for families in need. As word spread, so did the demand.
"Everything they do they never really think of themselves," said Kristin Taylor who nominated the Crockers. "They're some of the most selfless people that we have ever met, and they're so humble."
Last year they made 69 deliveries and this year they're on point to break 100.
"When you get the trees and take them in the house and see the smiles on the kids' face it just makes it all," said Matt Crocker.
Their operation has expanded to include food and toys as well; paid for out-of-pocket or through donations.
"It tugged at my heart and made me aware of the need out there," said Kathleen Crocker.
The need is so great they now accept applications from people who live within a 35 mile radius of Pawnee. Through this they've learned a simple gesture of giving can have a lasting impact.
"We just wanted to share God's love one tree at a time," said Matt.
Which is why they've been chosen as this month's Pay It Forward winner.
"On behalf of Hy-Vee and NewsChannel 20, we'd like to present you with this $500 check."