KENNEWICK — Homemade ornaments hang on the tree in Constance Harris' Kennewick apartment.
Although it seems to be just a tree, it's also the promise of a Christmas that Harris and her three daughters would not have had without the generosity of the Tri-Citians.
A group of more than 50 Hanford workers decided to adopt Harris and her daughters -- Aaliyah, 7, Mercedes, 8, and Cheyanne Jones, 9 -- for the holiday after reading about the family in a Herald article.
Harris was one of the first to move into the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission's new transitional housing program in Kennewick, called Seasons.
Never miss a local story.
Harris, 29, credits the transitional housing program for making it possible for her to regain custody of her three daughters.
When she first heard that the group wanted to help her family with Christmas, she said she didn't quite believe it.
But when it sank in, Harris said she became excited. She doesn't have much money for Christmas presents this year.
Harris described herself as a prostitute and crack cocaine addict in Yakima until a little over two years ago, when she checked herself into a drug rehabilitation program and later became a Christian.
Now, she is taking classes at Pasco's Columbia Basin College to get her GED and works part time at Subway in Pasco. She is part of the worship team for Victory Outreach of the Tri-Cities and is the church's coordinator for aid to other counties.
"I'm very blessed," she said.
In addition to the tree, the Hanford workers delivered some needed household items and a Thanksgiving meal, said Charlotte Dallas of West Richland, who is coordinating the assistance.
The Christmas gifts will be delivered closer to the holiday, she said. Aaliyah, Mercedes and Cheyanne helped come up with ideas of things they needed and things they wanted.
"I believe that every kid should have Christmas, and every mom should too," said Dallas, a janitor at Hanford.
Dallas said to her, helping the Harris family is paying it forward.
Her family was adopted for Christmas about 15 years ago. At that time, she was a single mom attending CBC. She was given two $50 gift cards to Costco and can remember thinking, "I don't believe this."
But although she is coordinating the efforts, she said the credit should really go to the Hanford workers who are making it happen. The group also is trying to raise money to donate to other charities during the holidays.
"It's nice to do something for someone who appreciates it as much as Constance does," Dallas said.
The artificial tree that the group got Harris is one her family can use for future Christmases.
Harris said she, Aaliyah, Mercedes and Cheyanne have already decorated the tree with lights and ornaments, and best of all, homemade ornaments the three girls made at school.