High prices fell Laurel Lions Club Christmas tree sale

Laurel Leader

Laurel residents who look forward to shopping for a Christmas tree each year from the Laurel Lions Club’s yearly fundraiser will have to look elsewhere.

After 61 years, the Laurel Lions Club will not sell Christmas trees this holiday season.

Laurel Lions Club President Charles Brannan, said the decision to cancel the club’s largest fundraiser was not only due to quality but also price.

“The price was atrocious,” the Clarksville resident said.

Tree farm prices were 25 percent more than in 2017, Brannan said, who declined to divulge the actual price for competitive reasons.

The club normally gets a selection of white pine, spruce, balsam, concolor fir and fraiser firs, from a variety of farmers in Pennsylvania. Brannan said the club also looked at trees in the Midwest but could not find the quantity or price the club wanted.

In 2017, the club raised $10,000 after selling nearly 400 trees priced between $30 and $50, Brannan said.

“All the money we raise goes back into the community, ” said Donna Curp, a former lion club president and co-chair of the Christmas tree sales.

The club provides charitable contributions to various local nonprofits such as the fire department, the volunteer rescue service and the Laurel Advocacy & Referral Services Inc. an organization that serves homeless and low-income families and individuals in Laurel.

Its biggest program is providing free eye exams and eyeglasses to those in need, Brannan said. Last year, the club provided 66 eye exams and glasses.

“We don’t want to cut any of the charities,” Curp, a Laurel resident, said.

Doug Hundley, spokesman for the National Christmas Tree Association, said an uncertainty in the Christmas trees population nationwide is due to the recession of 2006-2008.

“When the recession happened, the demand for trees went down,” Hundley said.

An average Christmas tree farm is 25 acres with about 50,000 trees growing in all various stages. Each year, a farmer expects to sell 5,000 trees, Brannan said.

“As the times got tough, they only sold about 3,000 trees [a year],” Hundley said. This left farmers with nearly 2,000 extra trees.

There was no option to remove the remaining trees in order to grow new ones, Hundley added, as it takes nearly a decade for farmers to grow a 6 foot-to-8 foot Christmas tree.

In lieu of the Christmas trees sale, the club is asking for donations.

Fliers were sent to its 1,000-name mailing list, thanking past customers for coming to event and asking for donations.

The club will also have future events to raise more funds.

A bingo event in October raised about $4,000, he said.

“The contributions won’t equal the amount of what we earned with the trees,” Brannan said.

However, this is not the end of the Laurel Lions Club selling Christmas trees.

“We thank the people who supported us all these years and we hope to be back in business next year,” Brannan said.

jnocera@baltsun.com

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