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A man helping neighbors gut their storm-wrecked homes found an artificial Christmas tree in the gutter with other storm debris a few days after Superstorm Sandy pummeled the Jersey shore. He then watched in amazement as Union Beach made the tree its own, decorating it with hand-made ornaments, hand-scrawled messages of hope, lights and toys.

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Rescued Christmas tree lifts wrecked town's spirit

In the days after Superstorm Sandy wrecked this gritty blue-collar enclave on the New Jersey shore, creating iconic scenes of devastation and loss, the artificial Christmas tree was just an inconspicuous part of tons of rubble, the detritus of people’s lives in a town ripped open for all to see.

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