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Christmas Tree House

Old Rockefeller Center Christmas trees are being used to build Habitat for Humanity homes

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Each Christmas, people flock to Rockefeller Center in New York City to admire what's usually a towering Norway spruce.

But have you ever wondered what happens to the trees after the holidays are over?

"It wasn't just thrown away. It was used in my house!"
Viridiana Perez

Well, for about a decade, the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity has been re-purposing the iconic trees and using them as lumber to build affordable housing units.

Tishman Speyer, the owner and manager of Rockefeller Center, first partnered with the non-profit in 2005. That year, according to a press release, Habitat for Humanity volunteers framed houses in Rockefeller Center for a week to help families affected by Hurricane Katrina.

In 2007 the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was first donated to Habitat for Humanity to use as lumber.

"This act of generosity allows the joy of the holiday season to continue for many families even after all the decorations have been taken down,” Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, said in a press release.

Here's how to out-decorate your neighbor this holiday season!
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The wood from last year's tree was used to build two homes in Newburgh, New York.

"It wasn't just thrown away," said home buyer, Viridiana Perez. "It was used in my house!"

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Each year the tree is milled down into planks and delivered to build homes in Philadelphia, New York City and part of Mississippi, among other areas.

The wood is too knotty to support a lot of weight, so it's often used to stabilize floor joists or for interior walls.

Even though the wood isn't visible when the home is complete, each piece from the iconic tree is labeled with a special stamp.

Perez, whose family will be moving into one of the homes built with lumber from the 2016 tree, said she appreciates that the tree will be used for her home.

"Even though I don't celebrate Christmas it means a lot to me," Perez said. "It's still nature."

Michael Hill with the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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