GREENFIELD — The wind nearly toppled the assortment of Douglas firs and pine trees lined up in rows at the Greenfield Lions Club tree lot on Monday afternoon, but the trees held fast in their stands.
Just over 25 of the 200 trees the club ordered this year remained at the lot, on the northwest corner of State Street and Green Meadows Drive in Greenfield.
The rest had already made their way into dozens of Hancock County homes, ready to be adorned for the holidays with ornaments and lights.
The local Lions Club tree lot has been a holiday staple on the corner across from McDonald’s for the past 10 years or so, but the club has been selling Christmas trees for much longer than that — about 35 years or so.
The money raised goes to support various local nonprofits like The Landing Place, Zoey’s Place and Love INC, to name a few.
“We also support the Kenneth Butler Soup Kitchen, Hancock County Food Pantry, Talitha Koum, Clothe-a-Child and various Boy Scout groups,” said club member Sally Porter. “Our motto is ‘We Serve,’ so we help wherever we can.”
Each year, the club orders about 200 trees from a northern Michigan tree farm and starts selling them the weekend before Thanksgiving. The lot is often sold out part way through December, said club member Dane Erlewein, who chairs the Christmas tree sales this year.
“For a lot of people, coming to buy a tree from us is a holiday tradition,” he said. “A lot of people like knowing their purchase goes to a good cause.”
The club nets about $3,000 from the Christmas tree sales each year, which helps support the club’s various donations and philanthropic projects throughout the year.
Club members work the lot seven days a week, but for those times when it’s not staffed, holiday buyers can place their money in the honor box and take a tree home, night or day.
Trees range in price from $45 to $95, depending on size.
The tallest ones, which can stand 8 to 10 feet tall, tend to sell quickly each year, Erlewein said. Trees 5 feet or shorter remained earlier this week.
While they might not smell as Christmasy, the Douglas fir trees are more popular than the pines.
“They seem to be more sought after because they hold ornaments better,” Erlewein said.
There was a time when the local Lions Club sold more than twice as many trees — about 500 a year — “but that was before there were tree farms around,” he said.
Regardless, stocking and selling hundreds of trees each year is no small task. Over the past few years, the Lions Club has gotten some help from local Boy Scout troops, which help to unload and set up the trees.
“That’s the biggest part of the operations, the setting up and tearing down, so they’ve helped us tremendously,” Erlewein said.
In addition to raising funds for worthy causes, Erlewein said the annual tree sales are a fun tradition for those who volunteer at the lot.
“We have about 35 to 40 members right now, but we’re always looking to recruit new members,” he said.
The Greenfield Lions Club has been serving the community since 1936.
It’s part of Lions Clubs International, a service-based organization that was founded in 1917.
In addition to the support individual clubs give to local causes, the organization’s service is focused on five global causes: diabetes, vision, hunger, the environment and childhood cancer.
For more information about the local club or its Christmas tree sales, visit the Greenfield Lions Club page on Facebook or call Erlewein at 317-697-1509.