Brittany Maxwell of the Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Police Department planned to spread joy through her Christmas Tree Project. Inspired by a young child who lived in her community, Brittany was collecting artificial trees for children and families who otherwise wouldn’t have one. Her goal was to collect at least 30 trees last year. Unfortunately, Brittany, 25, unexpectedly passed away in her home on Oct. 23, 2010, and didn’t get to see the project through.
“Brittany started this project on the first of October and passed away on the 23rd," says Jennifer Smith, the Brittany Project’s co-director, who worked as a dispatcher with Brittany. "We said—her family and friends—we’re not going to let this go. We’re going to keep her memory." Kimberly Maxwell, Brittany’s mother, and Smith have renamed the cause The Brittany Project.
Although the project began with bringing Christmas trees to families who couldn’t afford them, it’s spread well beyond that this year.
“We still bring trees and meals at the holidays, but we realized there’s a more basic, year-round need in our community,” Smith says. “Everyone wants to give teddy bears at the holidays, and that’s great. But these people really need toothbrushes and underwear and clothing and food.”
The Brittany Project has teamed up with local charity Last Call for Grace to address the basic needs of the community’s most vulnerable members, with an emphasis on children.
“People don’t realize the other side of life,” Smith says. “We take so much for granted. We turn on the water and know it’s coming on. The lights come on. We come home from work and complain about our days. But, you know, life is so much bigger than that. An illness or loss of income can change everything. I’d like for someone to help me if I needed the help. And the kids, they’re along for the ride. It’s a huge, unmet need.”
They’re requesting donations of school supplies, children’s clothing, artificial trees, decorating items and money. Monetary donations can be made in the name of The Brittany Project at any Middle Tennessee branch of First Tennessee Bank, or you can mail them to The Brittany Project, c/o Jennifer Smith, 128 Centerrock Dr., Christiana, TN, 37037.
For more information about The Brittany Project, e-mail info@theBrittanyProject.org or call 615/669-8622.