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Holiday Sparks: PNG welding program revives Christmas tree fundraiser

PORT NECHES — If real Christmas trees just aren’t your thing, if you can’t stand the thistles making a mess all over the floor, can’t wield an axe or your cat tears the limbs to shreds, look no further. Port Neches-Groves High School has a solution.

The PNG welding department is officially taking orders for its annual Christmas tree fundraiser by offering handmade customizable sturdy metal tree frames.

“Basically, what we are doing is building these little Christmas trees out of rebar,” said Tommy Gordon, the welding teacher at PNG. “They are all different sizes, and what we are trying to do is make some money for the welding department.”

Gordon, who started teaching in January, picked up the fundraiser after it fell to the wayside for a few years prior.

The Port Neches-Groves High School welding department is hosting an annual holiday fundraiser by selling handmade steel rebar Christmas tree stands. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Port Neches-Groves seniors Eric Mendoza, left, and Damion Cunningham, right, cut steel pieces of rebar. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“We take some rebar, we cut them into the different sizes, clean them, weld on washers to the end, put the bolts on and it sort of stands up on it’s own,” he said. “You open it up and it goes in people’s front yards. They string lights around it and it looks like a Christmas tree.”

Gordon said the metal frames are preferable to live Christmas trees because they are compactable, reusable and sturdy. The trees are made of rebar, which is reinforced steel known to hold up concrete under compression.

“Right now we are doing the trees and we’ve already sold almost a dozen,” Gordon said. “People were ordering them before we even had the material.”

The Christmas trees come in different sizes: 4 feet, 6 feet and 8 feet. Colors are also customizable with each order.

Port Neches-Groves senior Brandon Duhon constructs the final steps of a Christmas tree during class Thursday for the welding department’s annual holiday fundraiser. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

Port Neches-Groves seniors Eric Mendoza, left, and Damion Cunningham, right, cut steel pieces of rebar. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“In this area everybody likes to decorate their house,” Gordon said. “So this is a way for people to easily decorate their yards with lights and trees. Anyone who orders one is supporting the kids, supporting what they are doing and getting something truly handmade.”

Senior welder Jorge Gomez enjoys building the trees because it expands his skillset and he gets to see the pride of their finished project being used in the community.

“It’s not just raising money, but we get everybody involved,” he said. “Everybody gets experience and we’re learning as we go. We learn how to measure, cut, how to use torches and everything. Usually we just weld, but this we have to do for people. We’re all trying our best and giving it 100 percent.”

Gordon said he is hoping to expand the project to include building metal reindeers and stars to adorn the trees.

“Anyone who wants one let us know,” he said. “Come out and support the community and the school. We’re here and ready.”

The welding department will be accepting orders until Dec. 9. Prices range from $15-25 depending on size. For more information, email tgordon@pngids.org or call 409-729-7644 (ext. 105).