MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Whitehaven community is coming together to raise thousands of dollars, all for the perfect Christmas tree.

The Christmas stand in front of Southland Mall is empty, but not for long. Next week, a 28-ft fully decorated tree will be lit here, and it’s because of the community outpouring.

You might say Whitehaven community leader Jason Sharif was behind the movement.

“People remember you know, the tree lighting ceremony and the tree what it meant,” Sharif said. “I took a picture of. I really didn’t think anything of it. I am a Muslim, I don’t celebrate Christmas… so I really didn’t take anything of it.”

When he posted the picture, it set off a whirlwind, people saying it was smaller, had fewer decorations, and didn’t measure up to what Whitehaven was used to and deserved.

Pearl Walker is with I Love Whitehaven, saw the picture and understood the concern.

“So, to me, it looked disheveled and I just thought of that as a fall from Grace,” Walker said.

Sharif says after the backlash, the mall took the tree down.

“But they were just calling it the Charlie Brown tree and saying it wasn’t decorated right. But when I talked to the manager he said the tree wasn’t even fully decorated yet,” Sharif said. “And I was like, ‘why are you gonna put the tree back up?’ He said ‘No, I’m not gonna put it back up.’ And you know, other members of the community was like, well, we’re donating to the tree. It just started to fundraising and went from there.”

However, they learned that a tree like the one Whitehaven had in years past would cost $30,000-$40,000.

“And they was like, man, we can’t. We can’t raise $40,000. I say why not? There was 50,000 people in Whitehaven,” Sharif said.

That led to the grassroot effort. Donations started pouring in, both from individuals and corporations. In a week they raised $30,400.

Then, a Christmas tree seller, originally from Whitehaven, agreed to sell them a 28 ft. tree for 18 thousand and another 6 for decorations and storage.

“This is just the beginning. I tell everybody that’s configured in the tree. This is bigger than the tree, bigger than Christmas,” Sharif said.

The new Southland tree will be delivered next Thursday, December 8. The tree lighting is scheduled for Sunday, December 11.