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A Christmas tree becomes a part of Habitat homes

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2009 Rockefeller Christmas Tree Lighting

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The Christmas spirit in a Habitat house


The 2008 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lives on


Esther Huambo with daughter, Dalila, and son, Jose, in front of a portion of the 2008 Rockefeller Center tree as it was milled into lumber for their Habitat for Humanity New York City home. Photo by Anthony Collins.


The 2008 tree was taken down on January 10, 2009, and milled into lumber that was incorporated as shelving in Habitat NYC’s new affordable condominium complex. The tree will live on as part of 41 Habitat for Humanity New York City homes that were built in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York.

Esther Huambo, a homeowner at the Brooklyn complex, was at Rockefeller Center as the 72-foot trunk of the 2008 Norway Spruce was cut into lumber in preparation for its new role. Esther’s children, Dalila Santiago and Jose Santiago, watched as a large saw was used to slice the trunk into planks.

Now, every day will be Christmas at my house,” Dalila said.

Before moving into their new Habitat home, the family used to share one bedroom in Esther’s grandmother’s home in East New York, Brooklyn. There, space was so limited that they could “barely walk around the bed,” Esther explained.

A single mother, Esther works full-time as a Student Accounts Assistant at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Manhattan. She rears her children, is active in her church and has completed 300 hours of sweat equity to help build her family’s Habitat home.

Tishman Speyer, the owner of Rockefeller Center, donated the wood from the 2008 Christmas tree. The tree was lit with 30,000 energy-efficient LEDs, powered in part by energy generated by a solar roof. The Habitat NYC site was constructed to meet LEED’s high standards for green construction, with energy-efficient lights and appliances and recycled and non-toxic materials.

Esther Huambo and her children attended the 2009 Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 2, 2009.