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Hughson Teen’s Memory Lives On, 12 Years Later, with Decorated Almond Tree

HUGHSON -- Years ago when David Genzoli was considering removing his underproducing almond tree from the corner of his Hughson orchard, his daughter Danielle said that was not going to happen.

"Danielle named it the Charlie Brown tree," Genzoli said. "She saw the Charlie Brown story on TV and she wanted to save the tree."

Instead of replanting it, they fully embraced the tree's nickname and decorated it with a single ornament.

"Danielle's dream was to go to college and after college travel to world and help kids," her mom, Kimber, told FOX40.

But in 2005, tragedy struck. Danielle, just 16 at the time, was killed in a car crash. Her parents didn't have the strength to keep hanging the ornament.

"We weren't going to go down and put a bulb on the tree. We just didn't have it in us," Genzoli said.

But something amazing happened just six months after Danielle died. Someone else put up an ornament just before Christmas.

The Genzolis think one of their neighbors did it but they aren't sure. Either way, it inspired them to keep going.

Now, 12 years later, Danielle's "Charlie Brown" tree has become the community's tree. The amount of decorations grows each year, with other families even hanging photos of loved ones they have lost.

"This is such a great idea," Jim Higgins, who stopped by Thursday to donate an ornament. "Why not share? I've got the angel, you know, when I'm sure she was an angel and so I thought it would be appropriate."

The tree wasn't destined to produce a bountiful almond harvest. It has instead given something different, something far more important.

The tree is Danielle's gift.

Her parents have established a nonprofit, Danielle's Gift, to help children in crisis.