BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WFRV) — Ellie Wagnitz said it was about five years ago that she started noticing posts online from people in need of a Christmas Tree.
“And I’m like, wow, you know, people take some of the smallest things for granted,” she remembered.
Shortly after Christmas, as real trees were put out for disposal, Ellie noticed artificial trees were also on the curb, en route to the landfill.
She realized that those trees set out for the trash could live a second life with a family in need, and decided to take up a collection.
“The first year I collected like seven or nine trees,” she said.
Over the years, the project has grown.
“I have like a dozen trees to already pick up in the next two weeks,” Ellie said of this year’s loot.
To collect those trees, Ellie has traveled all over the area: Fond du Lac, Appleton, Oshkosh, and Shawano. All of that tree collecting, she said, earned her the nickname of: “The Tree Lady.”
With that reputation came people in need reaching out.
“I’ve gotten emails up to Christmas Ever morning, people still looking for trees,” Ellie said, “and this year I didn’t have anymore, so I felt horrible. I want to do a better job this coming year and collect more.”
If she wants to collect more trees, Ellie is going to need some help finding storage space, “I’m probably going to get a lot of trees,” she said. “If somebody has room, even a shed somewhere where they can store boxed trees.”
Ellie also stores ornaments, stockings, and tree skirts to distribute, and only asks for one thing in return, “I tell the families to please send me a picture when they have their tree all decorated,” she told Local 5.
Anyone with a tree to donate or storage space available can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Ellie Wagnitz at 920-737-8030.