The holidays are getting brighter for hundreds of South Florida families who on Saturday received a free Christmas tree. NBC 6 reporter Betty Yu interviews Vivian Martinez and Byron Lebron, who were among those receiving trees; and Marcio Cabrera, the CEO of Simply Healthcare Plans.
The holidays are getting brighter for hundreds of South Florida families who on Saturday received a free Christmas tree -- part of Good Samaritan’s act of generosity during the holiday season.
"This is the first time in my life that I will have a real Christmas tree," said one holiday reveler, Vivian Martinez.
The trees were donated by an NBC 6 viewer, Mike Fernandez, a businessman who founded health insurer Simply Healthcare Plans. His volunteers doled out 600 trees at two Miami locations, including at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church and School.
The trees were sitting days before -- almost unnoticed -- on a lot run by Jorge Alvart. NBC6 first shared the story of Alvart, a double amputee who blamed construction near his floral shop on Bird Road for his trouble selling trees.
Fernandez was so moved by Alvart's hardship and determination to be a success in America, that Fernandez bought Alvart’s entire tree inventory.
"I never expected something so beautiful to happen to me,” Alvart said of Fernandez. “He's a tremendous gentleman with a huge heart."
Fernandez’s generosity didn’t surprise Marcio Cabrera, the CEO of Simply Healthcare Plans.
"He's so generous throughout the year,” Cabrera said. “He's an incredible person. He has taught all of us how to really give."
The families who couldn't afford the trees appreciating receiving them, they said.
"I feel a lot better knowing that they had gotten the trees from him,” Martinez said of Alvart. “He says he's been having a lot of economic difficulties lately."
Byron Lebron also received a free tree. "I'm saving a lot, because a tree like that, it costs about $80, $90,” Lebron said.
Miami City Commissioner Francis Suarez coordinated the distribution effort in his district.
"I think all the families that have come here and received a tree today left with a very, very happy and joyful experience."
Fernandez also has invited Alvart and his family to Fernandez’s home for Christmas Eve to celebrate the holiday together.