City Rallies Around Homeless Man Who Lost His Christmas Tree

Photographed by Shana Novak.
A homeless man in New Orleans is living the true meaning of Christmas after he had his tree stolen.

WGNO reports that Philly, a homeless man who lives under the Pontchartrain Expressway in New Orleans, tried to add a little holiday cheer to his surroundings by setting up a Christmas tree next to his blue camping tent. He even got some battery-powered lights and topped the tree with a bow. But he claims that municipal garbage collectors tried to take the tree away. Once, he caught them at it, grabbed onto the tree, and saved it. But they came back and took it anyway.

But then, Philly's story took a turn for the better: After news broke about the tree, community members started bringing him gifts, as well as trees to replace the one that was thrown out. As of Tuesday, Philly is up to nine trees. He’s been sharing them and the presents with other homeless people; he told WGNO that Christmas is about “helping others.”

“All of a sudden, people are hugging,” he said. “That’s my reward.”

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