The festively colored ribbons on the holly tree at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Academy Street NE are more than just decoration.
Friday morning, the tree was transformed into the Patriot Tree by the Gainesville chapter of the Phoenix Society, a nonprofit women’s club that raises money in the community and donates it back to local charities.
Proceeds from selling the ribbons go to benefit the Phoenix Society’s Hall County Emergency Relief fund. The fund provides help to policemen, deputies, firemen and servicemen disabled or killed in the line of duty.
Becky English, the first vice president of the Phoenix Society, said she understood the impact of the funds personally.
"I’m a military wife, so just being able to help out a family that can’t meet a bill because (the family member) has been disabled or even killed in action is taking that stress off those people, even if it’s just for 10 minutes when we help them pay their bills," English said.
English said members of the Phoenix Society spend around 30 hours hand-making some 350 bows to go on the tree. In addition to throwing a couple of "bow-making parties" to get the job done, English said some members take ribbons home to finish them.
Every year, linemen from the Jackson Electric Membership Corp. out of Oakwood volunteer their time to help hang the bows.
The linemen hovered above Green Street traffic in two bucket trucks, which enabled them to spend about two hours putting the bows up in the tree’s higher limbs.
Foreman Jeff Vogt of Jackson EMC’s Gainesville service department said they like to get involved with the community.
"We all have family members who are firemen or policemen or in the war and this is a great opportunity to participate in something that’s of great benefit to them," Vogt said.
Bows can be purchased for the tree until the decorations come down in the first week of August.
For more information about the Phoenix Society or to order a bow for the Patriot Tree, call Becky English at 770-503-6030 or mail bow information to The Phoenix Society, P.O. Box 108, Gainesville, GA 30503. Each bow costs $5.
The Phoenix Society meets at the Gainesville Civic Center every third Thursday of the month.