ELLENTON, Fla. — Christmas trees are helping save lives in Manatee County, through a ministry program that helps get recovering drug addicts off the streets.
The Christmas tree lot off of Highway 301 in Ellenton may look like your normal tree lot, but for the men working there, it's purpose is much bigger.
"For the last 12 years, I was just trying to fill this God-shaped hole in my life with drugs and alcohol," said Dustin Greeley.
Greeley was addicted to heroin, homeless and in and out of jail for more than a decade.
"There’s no way I can get myself out of this deep dark pit I threw myself into, because I was trying to do it on my own," said Greeley.
Greeley says the program for recovering addicts with “Loving Hands Ministries” is what helped save his life.
"It's just changed me. It's changed my heart. It's changed my desires," said Greeley.
Darlene Horner has bought her Christmas tree from the Loving Hands lot for nearly 20 years.
"I love thinking something that brings my family so much joy is going to help young men to know who Jesus is, and to celebrate Christmas maybe for the first time for the real reason," said Horner.
One hundred percent of the proceeds go to helping drug addicts turn their lives around.
The men in the program do all the work from loading the trees to cutting away the trimmings, and even making hand-made Christmas wreaths.
There are two different locations with different hours. Monday - Friday from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
- 2900 US Highway 301 N
- 6502 14th St W