December 16, 2015 10:48 PM EST

A New Orleans man is embracing the holiday spirit by giving presents and trees to the local homeless – even though he’s without a home himself.

On Thursday, WGNO reported that Philly, a man who lives under the Pontchartrain Expressway, had set up a Christmas tree next to his tent.

He told WDSU that he set up the tree to spread cheer to his extended family living on the streets. “My purpose was to bring hope, restore hope and smiles,” he said.

The next day, city workers on street-sweeping duty removed the tree – twice.

“It’s a Christmas tree, fully decorated,” he said. “It ain’t past the 25th. Anybody with common sense would know it’s not trash.”

After a friend successfully retrieved the tree from a dumpster it was removed a second time.

When news broke that the tree had been taken, the community stepped in to return some Christmas cheer.

Philly told WGNO that he received nine donated Christmas trees and an array of gifts. He’s now distributing the gifts and trees to other homeless people.

“I don’t know how it happened [and] I haven’t seen it happening a lot but all of a sudden people are hugging each other,” he said with a smile. “That’s my reward.”

He told the news station that to him, Christmas means “helping others.”

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