INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -- Homeowners who built their own homes alongside Habitat for Humanity volunteers will spend their first Christmas inside their new houses.

This season is a life-changing one for them and this is a story about hope.

Where there’s hope, you’ll often find hugs.

On a chilly night at the Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm in Independence, Aubrey Lehotta met Karen Carter and found a common bond.

“You have four boys, too? I’ll pray for you. You pray for me,” Carter said with a laugh.

The families visiting the Christmas tree farm on Friday will enjoy their new homes, which were built with the help of the Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity. The families invested their own labor, which is called sweat equity.

“Yes, ma’am,” Carter said. “This will be my first Christmas in my new home. I’ve been homeless for the last four years. This will be a very special Christmas to have my own kitchen, to start my new family traditions.”

“We couldn’t afford Christmas,” Lehotta recalled. “The church had adopted our family and brought Christmas to us.”

Lehotta remembers what it was like to have tough holidays as a child, which is why she founded Northern Lights. She wanted to help others celebrate Christmas even if they are struggling. She collects Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations to give to anyone who needs them, including U.S. Coast Guard veteran Karen Carter.

“A symbol of a new start,” Carter said. “My first Christmas tree in my first new place. It’s just a beginning.”

“It’s hope,” Lehotta said. “It just brings them so much hope.” “This is our small little token to say ‘Welcome home and have an amazing, merry Christmas,” she said.

The Northern Lights Christmas Tree Farm is hoping to help 450 families this holiday season.

They still need people to donate Christmas trees, ornaments, and decorations. For information on how to help out click here

To learn how to get involved with Truman Heritage Habitat for Humanity, click here

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