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A Christmas tree farmer who wanted to hand out Christmas trees to low-income families and accept donations for a cancer fund has been ordered by the city of Waynesboro, Va., to close down his initiative.

A report today from the Rutherford Institute said its attorneys are jumping into action to help Christian Critzer, who began a Christmas tree donation drive to raise money for the Martha Jefferson Hospital Cancer Center Foundation in nearby Charlottesville, Va.

His wife recently won a battle against breast cancer, and he was hoping that giving away Christmas trees and accepting donations for the hospital would demonstrate the spirit of Christmas.

It would provide custom wigs for people fighting cancer and the effects of chemo and radiation treatments.

But the city ordered him to halt.

His “retail activity,” city officials concluded, has no place in an area zoned for homes.

He agreed to the order to prevent the city from bringing a legal action against the owner of his rental home.

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“This year has certainly been plagued with its fair share of Scrooges and Grinches disguised as government agents, threatening individuals with fines and arrest for such simple acts of kindness and charity as distributing free bottled water to the thirsty, giving away free food to the hungry and destitute, and making thermal shelters available to house the homeless during cold winter nights,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute.

“It’s our hope that Waynesboro officials will focus on solving the many real and pressing problems plaguing their community rather than creating problems where there are none.”

It was on Nov. 26 when a zoning official showed up on Critzer’s doorstep to tell him he couldn’t run a retail business in the home.

Critzer explained the intention of his tree drive and that it was not a retail activity but a charity for a local hospital.

No matter. Here’s your citation for running a retail activity in a residential area, the city official said.

Rutherford says it’s contacting the city to try to get what it describes as an “erroneous” interpretation of the zoning code fixed.

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