Curtis Ambulance delivers Christmas trees to local shelters and churches

MILWAUKEE (WITI) --They usually deliver patients to the hospital, but today, some ambulances are making a different type of delivery. It's all to spread some Christmas cheer to Milwaukee's most needy.

As paramedics open the ambulance doors, they get ready for a little heavy lifting. But no gurneys this time.

Instead, about a dozen Christmas trees are loaded in, all headed to local churches and shelters.

It's a more than 20-year-old tradition for the man who owns Curtis Ambulance, and it all started in the family.

"My wife`s family had a Christmas tree farm and I went, I've got some ideas here...and I said would you like to get rid of some trees?" said James Baker, president of Curtis Ambulance.

The ambulance's first stop is Milwaukee Rescue Mission.
"This is something where people are actually happy to see the ambulance. instead of 'ahh oh no!'" said Baker.

The trees will be placed in the men's shelter and will be decorated by shelter residents. Shelter leaders say the holidays can be lonely for the homeless, and demand for a bed increases with the cold temperatures. Anything to spread a little holiday cheer, is welcomed by the residents.
"That way our guests have that sense of normalcy and hopefully reconnect with the tradition they had when they were kids," said Dan Ryan, assistant director of development at Milwaukee Rescue Mission.

Over the years, James Baker has gotten many thanks. But one particular reaction at a church still brings a smile to his face.

"There was a sister from Thailand there, and she was thrilled with it, and she was new with the whole Christmas tree tradition. I don`t think they do Christmas trees in Thailand," said Baker.

It's seeing that kind of joy, that keeps this tradition alive.

All the trees come from a Christmas tree farm in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Any leftover trees that are not delivered will go to local needy families.