Friday, November 23, 2012

Blog Tour: The Carpenter's Gift Guest Post & Giveaway

Over the years I've watched with millions of others as the Rockefeller Christmas Tree came to "life" for the Christmas season. I always enjoyed hearing the behind the scene stories of how the tree was chosen each year but had never really thought much about what happened to the tree when the Christmas season was done.  The Carpenter's Gift by David Rubel  and illustrated by Jim LaMarche not only celebrates the history of the first Rockefeller Christmas tree but also the wonderful work of Habitat for Humanity who, since 2007, has milled the tree into lumber and used it to build a home. 
I am thrilled to welcome author and historian, David Rubel,  to the blog today!  His message about the importance of community and giving back is especially timely in light of the recent devastation brought by Superstorm Sandy.  
Guest Post:
I’ve got a crazy friend named Tom Gerdy, whom I met through my work with Habitat for Humanity. Tom is crazy because he spends nearly all of his free time building Habitat homes. He started with the organization about twenty years ago, and in that time he has put together a group of volunteers who travel with him up and down the Atlantic coast, staging “blitz builds”—which means putting up two houses in a single weekend. Really. Tom and his friends call themselves the Habitat Road Trip Crazies (in honor of Tom, I think).
After I interviewed Tom for my first book with Habitat (If I Had a Hammer), he put me on his email list and started sending me notices of upcoming Crazies builds. Because Tom lives in Lynchburg, Virginia, most of the builds were too far south for me (I live in upstate New York). But when he let me know that the Crazies were heading north for a build in Ocean County on the Jersey shore, I told him to count me in.
Spending a weekend with the Crazies teaches you that they aren’t so crazy after all. It’s thrilling to work elbow to elbow with 100–200 other volunteers, turning slabs of concrete into finished homes in just two days. But that sense of physical exhilaration is only the half of it. Working alongside the partner families and  the regular volunteers from the local affiliate gives you a strong sense of how much the effort means to them—and that makes it meaningful to you, too. I’d never been to Ocean County before, but the sense of community I got from those people in just two days was so strong that I felt, at least for the weekend, as though I really belonged.
My road trip with the Crazies comes to mind now because the Jersey shore was one of the areas hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy. From what I’ve learned, the area has suffered some serious physical damage. But—like so many other communities along the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut coastlines—it has also pulled together in a way that would make Tom Gerdy cry.
Last week, I got back in touch with Greg Muszynski, the president of Habitat for Humanity of Southern Ocean County, and he told me that the affiliate has been working overtime to meet all of the new needs. In the short term, HFHSOC’s thrift store has been giving away items to families in need. For the longer term, Greg said, the affiliate’s board of directors has decided to postpone building new homes so the organization can focus on repairing and rehabilitating existing homes damages by the storm. Meanwhile, local residents have been using the affiliate’s Facebook page to offer and accept donations of all kinds. “My basement was flooded, and I need help to remove the furniture,” one post reads. “I have some furniture from my parent’s home that I would like to donate. Please message me,” reads the next.
I thought about sending Tom the link, but do I really want to give an addict another fix? This morning I found out he already knows. He sent around an email saying that he had just gotten back from New Jersey. The house that we built weathered the storm okay but others weren’t so fortunate. While he was there, he talked to some affiliates about scheduling builds in the spring. I told him I’ll be there. It’s what you do when you’re part of a community.
Thank you so much David for sharing your experience with Habitat for Humanity, reminding us that we are all part of a bigger community.
This year's tree lighting ceremony, which marks the 80th anniversary of the Rockefeller tree and the sixth year the tree will be donated to Habitat, takes place on Wednesday, November 28, 2012.

The Carpenter’s Gift: A Christmas Tale About the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

By David Rubel; Illustrated by Jim LaMarche / Random House Children’s Books
ISBN: 978-0-375-86922-8 / Ebook: 978-0-375-98067-1

Thank you to Mary at Random House Kids for the opportunity to help celebrate the special tradition of the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Habitat for Humanity's important work by being a part of this this blog tour.
In the spirit of giving and paying it forward, Random House  will send one lucky reader of this blog a copy of  The Carpenter's Gift.  Click here to enter.
Don't forget to take the time to visit all of the blogs participating in The Carpenter's Gift Blog Tour.
Blog Tour Schedule

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012:

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012:
Friday, November 23rd, 2012: The Book Maven’s Haven
Saturday, November 24th, 2012:
Sunday, November 25th, 2012: {Eat the Book}
Monday, November 26th, 2012: Maestra Amanda’s Boohkshelf
Tuesday, November 27th, 2012:
Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

1 comment:

  1. As a former New Yorker, I adored reading this post-thank you for sharing this. I'm headed to the frightening reality that is Black Friday at Barnes & Noble in about a half hour, so I'll be looking for it. Also, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Liebster Blog award. You can see what it's about here:

    The Wild Rumpus