By Cathy Collins
Executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh
To view a slideshow of this year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, visit habitat.org/photogallery/2010/
When I was 13 years old, I remember coming to New York City from Little Rock, Ark., to visit relatives. On Christmas Eve, we went ice skating at the rink below the Rockefeller Christmas Tree. It is one of my fondest childhood memories. And ever since, the Rockefeller Christmas Tree has held a special place in my heart. So imagine my excitement to learn, just a month after becoming executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, that our affiliate will receive the donation of lumber from the 2010 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. I was absolutely thrilled. I ran downstairs gathering staff on the way so they could share in my delight and help select the house project and family!
The Rockefeller Christmas Tree — always so large and filled with so many lights — is a meaningful symbol for Habitat for Humanity. The tree represents Habitat and the strength of its homebuilding model, and all the lights denote the thousands of affiliates across the United States and throughout the world, shining a light on poverty housing and doing something very positive and tangible to help eliminate it. The tree is a shining example of Christmas giving in Rockefeller Center, and it will live on to be a shining example of giving in our community.
Habitat Newburgh focuses our work in one of the most distressed urban areas in the United States, and this gift shines a bright light on our great city. Please feel free to check out our work online at www.habitatnewburgh.org  .
I value Tishman Speyer’s thoughtfulness to reuse something we enjoy so much during this special holiday season by turning it into a gift that will help create a home for a working family living in deplorable conditions. During this holiday time, when I think about the spirit of Christmas and the amount of HOPE it brings, I am immediately struck that the use of this wood engenders that same hope. Hope for the world. Hope for those in need. Hope for strong communities. Hope for us all to do our part.