BILLINGS — In 2020, Ryan and Bobbi Cox posted two free Christmas trees on Facebook and within hours they had over 200 people asking to be the ones to take the trees.
The amount of attention the two free trees received made Ryan and Bobbi realize that there was a need in the Billings community that they wanted to fill.
“Ryan and I took a lot of money out of our own pocket, and we helped 26 families that first year, and then it just kept growing from there,” Bobbi said on Sunday.
That first year, they helped 28 families. Every year since, the number has grown and the Cox family created Project Christmas Miracle.
“Our project was to bring the Christmas miracle, just a small piece of that to families that’s why it’s Project Christmas Miracle,” Ryan said. “Last year, we helped 60 families, which was kind of our pipeline dream. If we can get to 60 families in a season, that’s awesome. But this year, the fact that we were able to help 110 families, is humbling, for sure.”
This year, Project Christmas Miracle had over 20 volunteers to help deliver artificial trees, decorations and stockings to families that applied or were nominated onthe nonprofit's website.
Bobbi said the responses they receive when delivering the trees are filled with tears, smiles and joy.
“(They're) so grateful, you know, they may never have gifts, but they have that tree every year,” Bobbi said.
The nonprofit delivers trees to families in the Billings area and the surrounding towns. This year they delivered a tree to Helena. Ryan said they hope to continue to grow to help more families in the state.
“We want to help Montana. We’re Montanans, you know, this is where we were born and raised. We want to help those families in this state,” Ryan said.
Ryan and Bobbi said they start preparing for the next year of delivering Christmas miracles the day after Christmas. They rely on donations from community members and businesses in Billings to be able to continue gifting a place for families to gather and make memories during the holiday season.