KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Melissa France created the Tiny Trees program at East Tennessee Children's Hospital nearly a decade ago. At the time, her daughter had recently finished cancer treatment, and France was looking for a way to give back.
"What we hope is the trees do is give each child a feeling of home," France said.
The first year, she collected 80 trees, but since then, the program has grown. She said they're hoping to have 400 trees this year to ensure every child who stays overnight at the hospital during the holidays receives a decorated tiny tree.
Girl Scout Troop 20158 is one of the groups that volunteer for Tiny Trees year after year.
"I get excited when I know I can help other people," seventh-grader Sophie Carr said.
They decorated each of their five three-foot trees with a different theme.
"We have a penguin theme, a mickey mouse theme for one, an elf theme for another," listed Victoria Lamkey, an eighth-grader at Seymour Junior High School.
They say that helping others is part of the Girl Scout Promise, and one reason why they love paying it forward.
If you're interested in decorating a miniature tree, France said they're still looking for volunteers. Visit the TinyTrees Facebook page for more information on how you can get involved.