GREENFIELD — Those who have faithfully bought their Christmas trees from the Lions Club tree lot on State Street in Greenfield will have to shop elsewhere this year.
The club was unable to find a new location after a new drive-through oil change center took over the lot they had been using for more than 20 years, on the northwest corner of Green Meadows Drive and State Street.
For over two decades, the Lions Club was granted use of the then-vacant lot to sell hundreds of trees each year, with the proceeds going to local charities like Clothe-A-Child.
Tree sale chairman Dane Erlewein said club members are disappointed they can’t keep up the tradition this year.
“We had been looking all spring and summer and just couldn’t find a suitable location, especially with all the development along State Road 9,” said Erlewein.
“Our tree orders had to be in by August, and we had to make the difficult decision not to sell this year. It’s all about location when selling stuff, so visibility is important. We’re optimistic that next year we can find a location that’s suitable,” he said.
The Lions Club has been selling Christmas trees to local families for over 40 years, generally netting between $2,000 to $3,000 for local charities.
The club’s tree lot has bounced around to a few different locations over the years, but have remained in the most recent spot — just north of McDonald’s — for the past 20 years.
For the past five years, local boy scouts have helped unload the bulky trees and set them up in the lot, which was lit by strings of patio lights.
“Our members aren’t getting any younger, and it’s a lot of work unloading a semi full of Christmas trees,” Erlewein said.
Club president Wayne Beck has worked the lot every year since he first joined the club 37 years ago.
While it’s always a lot of work, Beck said it has been rewarding to see many families return to buy a tree year after year.
“It’s a joy to see the happiness on the children’s faces when they come with their parents,” he said.
In recent years, the Lions Club has sold roughly 200 trees a year. Erlewein said that’s compared to 500 trees a year in the past, before the rise in the number of local tree farms where customers can chop down trees themselves.
Still, he believes the club’s loyal customers will return next year if club members are able to secure a new location.
Erlewein knows selecting a Christmas tree from the Lions Club lot has become a cherished tradition for many, and he’s thankful that the practice is still able to generate a bit of money for local charities each year.
While he’s disappointed that the Lions Club won’t be able to support local families through Clothe-A-Child, as facilitated through Love INC, as it has in years past, he’s also grateful to have seen less of a need in recent years.
“Typically for Clothe-a-Child we’d get about 15 kids’ names from Love INC, but last year we were only given the names of two or three kids,” said Erlewein.
“Since we had a much lower number of requests, that tells me either the need has lessened or there are more (individuals and organizations) stepping up to help.”
Both he and Beck say they look forward to hopefully securing a new location and selling trees again next year.
“We just want to thank the community for all the support they’ve given us over the years,” said Beck. “We enjoy being able to serve the community in any way we can.”
Anyone with information on a suitable tree lot location for 2023 is encouraged to call Erlewein at 317-697-1509.