Two beautifully decorated designer Christmas trees will be making the holidays a little brighter for children at the Child Crisis Center and homeless veterans at the MANA (Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force) House this year thanks to the work of two Ahwatukee Foothills residents.

Cynthia Laymon decided to decorate and donate Christmas trees to local charities years ago when she sat in a hospital lobby, waiting while her son was receiving treatment, and was faced with a Christmas tree that was as sad as its surroundings. As an art professor and a lover of Christmas the sight was unbearable and she, with friend Mary Chavez, has been on a mission ever since to provide charities with a tree that will give people hope during the holidays.

This year the “Let it Snow” tree will go on display at the Child Crisis Center, a shelter that takes in children ages birth to 11 years old and takes care of them while parents work through an emergency situation or work with Child Protective Services to get back on their feet.

“It is so beautiful,” said Pamela Godfrey, community relations manager for Child Crisis Center. “I’m beyond thrilled. … Especially during the holidays we try to make it very special for the children. This will warm the whole place.”

Godfrey said in years past it has been up to her to decorate the lobby. This donated tree will make it much easier on her.

The “Let it Snow” tree has homemade snowmen ornaments, white balls that resemble snow and sleds. The lights on the tree can be turned to white or color, which Godfrey said will be exciting to surprise the kids.

The second tree this year, the “Nutcracker” tree, will go to the Madison Street Veteran Association’s MANA House, transitional housing for veterans.

The center’s director, Terry Araman, said he was excited when he was contacted by Laymon. They’ve only donated decorations in the past and it’s often what’s left over from someone else’s home.

“This is gorgeous, absolutely beautiful,” Araman said. “I’m in awe really. We’re a nonprofit organization so we just take whatever donations come in when it comes to decorations. This is incredible in relationship to what we’ve had before and we very much appreciate it.”

The “Nutcracker” tree has dozens of nutcracker ornaments, all hand painted to match the aqua and red color scheme. It also has poinsettias and large gold stars to pull the look together.

For the first yea, Laymon and Chavez will set up the trees but they’ll leave each organization with specific instructions for packing up the trees and ornaments and more directions for how to set it back up in the future.

The duo works on several tree themes at a time and collects ornaments for years before selecting a charity and finalizing a tree specifically for that organization. They always welcome monetary donations to help purchase trees and ornaments.

To donate, contact Laymon at or (480) 598-8540.

For more information on the Child Crisis Center, visit For more information on the MANA House, visit

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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