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Christmas tree a symbol of hope for a community looking to rebuild

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JACKSON COUNTY, AL -

Two weeks after a deadly EF-2 tornado swept through Rosalie, Alabama, residents are still dealing with the devastation. But one donor is making sure that the damage is not going to stop the community from celebrating the holidays.

In the middle of storm damage remains a symbol of hope for a community looking to rebuild.

One by one neighbors stopped by and hung their ornaments on this Douglas Fir. The Christmas tree is now a symbol for this grieving town. “We are a community, we are a family, not a town, we are a family,” said Regina Koger a long time resident of Rosalie.

Like much of Rosalie, Thornhill Tree Farm was damaged in last month's tornado, but that didn't stop the owners from donating a tree to help lift everyone's holiday spirits. “Everybody gives to us here; everybody has been good here. We might as well give back and this was something we could give,” said Skyler Ramage.

The Christmas tree, in the heart of Rosalie, represents new beginnings. Each ornament hung with love and holds a special story. “Cleaning up the shed and found a Christmas ornament and it wasn't touched by the tornado and came and hung on a tree,” said Volunteer Firefighter Bre Heard.

For neighbors this tree is the root of their message to all those watching, they are Rosalie Strong. “Coming together, difficult time during the holidays, bring everyone together,” said Ramage.

“We are rebuilding, and come back stronger than ever and I can't wait,” said Koger.

It is a simple gesture that brings so much healing and happiness to those affected by heartbreak and sadness, more than any present that may be found underneath. “Small town, big heart, that is what we are. Everybody comes together and helped everyone out. We can't ask for nothing better,” said Heard.

A local family is creating three special ornaments to hang on the tree in honor of the three lives lost in the tornado.

Thornhill Tree Farm is still open and selling trees.

On Saturday, December 17th, there will be a benefit to help raise money for the victims of the tornados at 2904 Greenhill Blvd NW, Fort Payne, Alabama.

There will be live bands, an auction, raffle, food served, t shirts sold and even a surprise guest may appear for the Children. The event is free.  If you would like to help or make a donation call 423-490-5871.

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