Strangers make Christmas special for homeless man

Strangers made Christmas special for a New Orleans homeless man named John. (Photo courtesy WDSU via CNN)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WDSU) – Several people in New Orleans are in the spirit of giving after a homeless man’s Christmas tree was thrown out by city sanitation workers

A city spokesperson said the tree was a code violation.

This is a story of a perfect Christmas picture in an imperfect place, of saving Christmas, for a man who spends every night under the Ponchartrain Expressway.  It may also be a story of the people who pass him by, every day.

“My purpose was to bring hope and stir hope and smiles,” said John the homeless man who received Christmas trees from strangers.

John had a tree outside of his tent until it was thrown away Friday morning, cleared out by people who work for the city’s sanitation department.

“It’s pretty much what they took from me,” said John.  “I wanted to get back.”

One by one, ordinary people dropped by Saturday, wanting to give back too. Bringing trees, decorations, even pinning a stocking to his tent

As a human being, even though I’m homeless, see, that meant something to me,” John said.

And what meant the most, he says, is what happened next.

“He says, ‘Well, I want to stop and help decorate.’ Well that really touched my heart.”

“I don’t care what code violation it is,” said Kelly Caruso who donated a tree.  “It’s the holidays. And these people need everything that can uplift them. As much as they can.”

John ended up with more trees than he could handle. So he decided to share, giving some to homeless women living nearby.

“They try. Cuz they haven’t had a tree in a couple years,” said John.  “This may not look like the bayou. But to me, it’s the reward that I wanted.

“See that’s what we can do by helping others” John said. “You don’t have to have thousands of millions to help somebody. You can have a penny in your pocket, not even a penny, and reach out and touch somebody.”

John’s tree, along with the others he gave away, are out on display under the Ponchartrain Expressway.

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