It's said that the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

It's said that the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree.

In the case of Emma Mitchell, make that a Christmas tree from North Carolina.

Emma, a sixth-grader who lives in Upper Arlington and is a member of Trinity United Methodist Church's youth group, is leading Operation Christmas Tree, a project to give out 100 trees to Columbus families in need.

She was inspired by helping her grandfather, who has participated in a Christmas-tree project in Winston-Salem, N.C., and has served as the project's leader for nearly a decade.

"It was so great to see the expressions on the families' faces, to see how happy they were to be getting a tree for Christmas," Emma said. "I know how important my family's Christmas tree is to me. It wouldn't seem like Christmas without it."

A Christmas tree can serve as a symbol of hope during the holiday season, she said.

Emma, who attends Jones Middle School, is asking Christmas tree lots and nurseries to donate their unsold Christmas trees near the end of the holiday season.

So far, she has received pledges from Oakland Nursery and Strader's Nursery.

Mitchell is working with Trinity and Broad Street United Methodist churches to coordinate the project.

Trees will be distributed between noon and 2 p.m. Dec. 21 from the State Auto parking lot across from the Broad Street church at the corner of North Washington and Broad streets in downtown Columbus.

"We'll be giving out the trees on a first come, first-served basis," said Emma's mother, Kris Mitchell.

Chuck Nutter from Nutter Handyman Services and Nutter Hardware will provide two trucks to haul trees to the delivery site, she said.

"It's amazing how many people are helping us on this project," Mitchell said.

"It's a good way to make use of the unsold trees," Emma said. "They'd just be disposed of anyway."

Trinity church members and students from the youth group will assist on delivery day, she said.

While her grandfather's project delivers many hundreds of trees each year, Emma said she wanted to set a modest goal of 100 trees for her inaugural effort.

"I just really enjoy helping others," she said. "I think it's especially important to think of other people during the Christmas season."