Christmas tree giveaway helps mend a broken heart

Boalsburg, Centre County, Pa. - The holidays are prime time for advertisements, that for some may just be junk mail.

But for Allison Sharpe one Christmas ad turned out the be the answer to her prayers.

"My whole future all of a sudden was gone and I didn't know what to do. I lost my best friend," Sharpe said.

In April of 2010 Jamie Houseknect was killed in a car accident, leaving behind his girlfriend of six years, Allison Sharpe, and their pup Bernie.

Shortly after, Sharpe found out he was planning on proposing but their plans together were cut short.

And as she approached Christmas that year, Sharpe said the last thing she felt was holiday spirit.

"I didn't want anything to do with Christmas. I didn't want to celebrate, I didn't want to decorate, buy presents or send cards. I didn't want anything like that," Sharpe said.

Then one day an ad for a "free tree" dangled from her door knob.

"I was like 'free tree?' Who gives out free Christmas trees?" Sharpe questioned.

The same year, Centre Church in State College was formed and it started its annual "Christmas Tree Giveaway" 

Jonathan Weibel, Lead Pastor at Centre Church, said "it's not the most wonderful time of the year for a lot of people and we wanted to bring some happiness to people and just to show them that God loves them in a really practical way."

Weibel said for some, it's a financial help, for Sharpe it was an invitation.

"I went to the church and as soon as I went to the church, I just had this overwhelming feeling that I was supposed to be there," Weibel said.

She never picked up her free tree; instead she found a path for healing.

And 7 years later she's helping Centre Church expand into Pleasant Gap, where she and Weibel helped distribute 700 door hangers for this year's tree giveaway.

"Love God and love your neighbor as yourself, and this event is a simple way to do that," Weibel said.

And while she closes one chapter of her life and opens another, Sharpe hopes she can touch another life with a simple message on their door knob.

"I'm really praying that they make it to someone like me who is lost and may not even know it," Sharpe said.

The church will be giving the free trees to the first 75 people with the door ad, who show up Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Pleasant Gap location.

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