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December 25, 2015

Rockefeller Christmas tree is reused to build homes

Habitat for Humanity uses wood from the giant tree to help build affordable housing

For five families in Philadelphia, Christmas represents home – in the most literal way possible.

Habitat for Humanity is using lumber from last year's Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, 85 feet tall and grown in Danville, Pennsylvania, in five construction projects in the City of Brotherly Love, reports the Associated Press.

"We're a part of such meaningful history," said local mom Lisa Wilson to the AP. She and her 9-year-old son Karlo attended the dedication ceremony for their new home earlier this month.

The Christian charity helps struggling families find affordable housing. While the homes aren't free, mortgages are low and Habitat pays for or finds donations of land, building costs and labor. In return, the homeowner puts in at least 300 hours of "sweat equity," helping to build their own house or someone else's.

The iconic tree at Rockefeller Center has been a New York City tradition since 1931, while the tradition of donating the lumber to Habitat began nine years ago. Around 500,000 people come to crane their necks up at the tree each year.

This year's tree was grown in upstate New York. Officials haven't yet decided where the wood will go, but previous trees have been reused in homes in Mississipi, Connecticut and New York.

Read the full story here.