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Man leads rewarding and giving life as special ed teacher and Christmas tree seller


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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — This holiday season, a Queens man says he is lucky enough to have two jobs he loves. He is a teacher by day, and sells Christmas trees by night.

As CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported Tuesday, he’s spreading joy in both occupations.

Greg Walsh is known to some as “the tree man.”

“I know every single tree in this lot. Every single one, I know its whole life,” Walsh said.

When he’s not taking care of business or playing Santa’s elf at one of his five Christmas tree locations, he’s a special ed teacher.

“I love teaching. My whole school day is here,” Walsh said.

Even more challenging in these times, he’s doing it remotely.

“I’m good at bringing kids out of their shells. That’s what I’m good at, and it’s, it’s … I’m getting goose bumps,” he said.

But now, ’tis the season, as they say, so when the school day is done, Walsh turns his attention to his trees.

For more than three decades this has been his seasonal business, and his passion. Like everything else this year, there was uncertainty about it. Even as his home transformed into a tree man’s workshop and was loaded with inventory, would there or could be any business?

“People are so happy we are here. I’ve been doing this for 35 years. Never have people been so excited when they got their tree. I am certain of that,” Walsh said.

A jolly relief.

And for Walsh, another part of this season of giving is that it’s his season of giving away trees. He said it’s an important part of spreading holiday cheer.

“We donate to different groups here and partner with us and we also have a couple other people we give trees to,” Walsh said.

Susan Brustmann is the executive director of the Poppenhuesen Institute in College Point, Queens, a cultural center that offers free and low-cost programs to the community. This year, she said, the trees and decorations that Walsh is donating are even more meaningful.

“It’s very rough, so any dollar that we have to spend is difficult. So having a tree donated this year is more important than ever,” Brustmann said.

The same is true for the Union Settlement in East Harlem. Walsh donated 10 trees there for families in need. One of his trees is also lighting up the corner of 106th and Third.

It was a good holiday season for Greg’s Trees this year. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come. But no matter what, he said some traditions will always remain the same.

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