Years ago, when Miki Otterness was a single mom struggling to make the holidays bright, someone gave her a Christmas tree with gifts mysteriously left beneath the decorated evergreen.
It may not have been a House Beautiful tree, but it made quite the impression on Otterness, co-owner of Red Pear Salon in Coon Rapids.
“The tree I was given was so ugly and needed to be anchored to the wall in order to stand, but I never forgot it,” Otterness said.
“The tree turned out to be beyond beautiful when my Christmas spirit was restored.”
That holiday-brightener inspired Otterness and her cousin, Red Pear Salon co-owner Chris Wisen, to “Pear it Forward.”
Pear it Forward is what Otterness and Wysen have named their annual effort to collect donations and gifts and money and ornaments for families in need.
That need may be caused by financial stress, an illness in the family, a death, a divorce, a deployment, or some other devastating development on the home front.
“We want people to give us names of people who they think should get a tree for the holidays. We might not be able to give everyone a tree, but we’ll give as many as we can,” said Otterness.
And so, folks are invited to stop by Red Pear for a haircut in exchange for a donation of an ornament, a small gift, or a gift card for a family needing some holiday cheer – and folks are also invited to leave the name of a family who might need a tree.
“Holidays are not all smiles and (are) difficult for some, and we hope a few gifts, ornaments from the community, and a tree they can use year after year restores a bit of happiness,” Otterness said.
“It’s a reminder of what the holidays are really about – taking care of one another with kindness.”
Red Pear Salon is located at 12085 Hanson Blvd. NW, Coon Rapids. For more information, call 763-767-1900.
Sue Austreng is at