BARRON, Wisc. (FOX 9) - A community of Barron, Wisconsin school bus drivers felt like it needed some hope, so it put up a tree around October.
You can’t miss it as you drive through Barron, now. It has been a beacon of hope in the community since Jayme Closs went missing 90 days ago. The beacon continues to shine now that she's been found.
“Give a little bit of hope to our kids ‘cause they were scared and kind of light the way home for Jayme [Closs],” said Amy Stone, a bus driver.
The tree has been up since October, shining a light during an incredibly difficult time.
“When it happened, kids were just terrified,” said David White, another bus driver who helped put up the Tree of Hope.
The family of school bus drivers had a front row seat to the pain of Barron’s young students, as Victoria Stone had driven Jayme Closs home the day she disappeared.
“Over the radio, ‘What’s going on at the Closs house?’ and my heart just sank. I’m like, ‘I know that, I dropped that kid off, what’s going on?’ My heart just sank,” said Stone.
Stone and her colleagues knew Closs’ classmates needed a little hope to light a dark time in their community.
“When a person is down, you lift them up, even if you don’t feel like it,” she said.
While one tree might not seem like much, the simple message has power.
“It’s everything, without hope, we don’t have anything,” she added.
On Thursday, everything changed in Barron. Moods were lifted, joy was back and hope was fulfilled.
“You can tell there’s something, when she was gone, it felt like a dark cloud over Barron,” Stone added. “And now that she’s back, the whole mood is just lifted and everyone just seems happier.”
The school bus driver family said, at this point, they are going to keep the tree up and lit and have no plans to take it down.