AUSTIN (KXAN) — A tall juniper tree along Loop 360 stands out from the others sporting holiday decorations because of its message of helping those in need.
Dan Hefton sent in a picture of “The Giving Tree,” on the southbound side of the highway between Ranch to Market Road 2222 and Ranch to Market Road 2244. Dangling on the branches are warm hats, scarves and other gifts.
A sign nearby instructs people to take what they need, or share something that “inspires, clothes, or feeds.”
“We hung a few items on the tree, and hope that this catches on for those in need!” Hefton said.
KXAN reached out to the originators of the tree, who dubbed themselves the “Santa Bandits” on Instagram. They said they knew they wanted to decorate a tree this year and were brainstorming unique, interactive ideas when they thought of “The Giving Tree” concept.
“We all know the amazing sense of community that exists in Austin, and so our hope is to simply provide our neighbors, whatever their means – with a fun, easy way to give or receive,” they told KXAN.
The Loop 360 trees inspire the holiday tradition of either putting up decorations or removing them early. Some who take down the ornaments say they end up staying there even after Christmas, or blow away in the wind and cause problems for the environment and wildlife. Usually, a group will get together to clean up the trees at the end of the season.