With a Christmas tree slung over his shoulder and a package of blue and silver ornaments tucked under his arm, Ray Morrell picked his way past children's toys outside a Bismarck home.
He placed the faux conifer and a Christmas card on the back stoop for the family to find.
Morrell's employer, Premier Homes Inc., in Mandan, has donated and delivered Christmas trees to area families this week who would have otherwise gone without. With help from Missouri Slope Areawide United Way, the company provided trees to 50 homes.
“Christmas is a special time, a time of family and hope,” Wade Vogel, owner of Premier Homes said in a statement. "As a builder, there is more to building a community than constructing walls and roofs. You have to build hope.”
Morrell said the families have been excited to see the trees arrive.
He said there were times when he was a boy that money had been tight in his own family. Without local charity organizations, there were years he might have gone without a gift under the family's aluminum Christmas tree and he's happy to be able to pay that kindness forward.
Now, as a father, he decorates the tree with his 16-year-old son, the sounds of Michael Martin Murphy Cowboy Christmas playing in the background.
"There's fond memories," he said. "This provides that same opportunity for others and lets them start new traditions."