An Edmonton woman who received help from the community when she needed it most, is doing her part to give back and say thank you, through her involvement with the Singing Christmas Tree.

Final preparations are underway for the 43rd annual Singing Christmas Tree and for many families, the show marks the start of the holiday season, but for Hana Marinkovic, the show has become a way for her to say 'thank you.'

Marinkovic and her sister were raised by grandparents and their single mother – one who had health issues and was unable to work.

Despite those challenges, Christmas was always special for Marinkovic’s family.

“When I was younger, during the Christmas season, finances were very tight. We did receive support from the community, from complete strangers, who chose to donate their time and their effort to Santas Anonymous and the food bank,” Marinkovic said.

“I really do believe that part of the reason why Christmastime is such a special time for me is because of the care and compassion that I experienced from the community during the Christmas season.”

It’s because of that experience she had as a child that prompted her to get involved with the Singing Christmas Tree.

This is Marinkovic’s third year as a member of the singing tree choir. She will stand on stage, in the 35-foot high singing Christmas tree on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“Every time the curtain comes up, I’m just overwhelmed with care and the experience really is remarkable,” she said. “It really has been a gift to be involved in the tree.”

It’s her way of giving back to the community.

“Being able to give back to the community in this way truly is a gift and I cherish the opportunity so much,” Marinkovic said.

John Cameron, executive producer for the show, says like Marinkovic, many of the show’s singers just want to do their part.

“These are just normal Edmontonians who want to give back to the community,” Cameron said.

“(They) want to share their story and help other people and that’s really what the Singing Christmas Tree is about, helping other people.”

He says Marinkovic is one of the show’s stars.

“Hanna is a spark plug. Two years ago we always focused on her because she’s always smiling and it just attracted people to her. When we got to hear about her story about why she’s involved, it was really amazing and it’s just great to have her involved,” Cameron said.

Last year’s Singing Christmas Tree show raised more than $100,000 for Santas Anonymous, which provides gifts to less fortunate children in Edmonton.

This year’s show also supports Santas Anonymous along with the Edmonton Food Bank, with net proceeds going to the two organizations.

“We anticipate donating quite a bit of money this year like we did last,” Cameron said.

“This year it looks like we’re going to sell out again. It’s really caught fire in Edmonton and lots of people are talking about so we’re really excited.”

During this year’s performances, Marinkovic will be performing as well as sharing her story with the audience.

“It will be a touching moment for sure,” Cameron said.

The Singing Christmas Tree runs Dec. 7-9 at the Northern Jubilee Auditorium.

With files from Amanda Anderson