A 70-year tradition in the season of giving
Pineville Lions Club Christmas tree fundraiser benefits local programs
PINEVILLE, La. (KALB) - The holiday season is typically rooted in tradition. For many families, the season begins by walking into a Christmas-tree-lined field (or a local home goods store) for the perfect Christmas tree.
For the Pineville Lions Club, the act of buying a Christmas tree, specifically one from their lot, carries a much weightier meaning than just making a seasonal dream come to life.
For 70 years, the Pineville Lions Club has set up shop at a high-traffic spot in the city for their biggest fundraising effort of the year - their annual Christmas tree lot. For most of that time, the club dug holes in the ground of the lawn in front of the old Huey P. Long Charity Hospital on Main Street, until 15 years ago, when they moved to a spot on HWY 28 East. Now, they have had to be a bit more creative with showcasing their tree collection, lining the Mac’s Fresh Market parking lot with wire cables, posts and cinderblock planters for the trees.
Although they have moved locations throughout the years, their mission has remained the same.
“Our main goal is to serve our foundation, the crippled children’s camp, and some of the local [places], like [the] food bank here and some of the local activities here in town we serve,” said Ed Frost, the secretary of the Pineville Lions Club for the past 40 years, who has participated in the Christmas tree program for 53 years.
Frost has seen the ups and downs of the fundraiser, including recent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the supply of their products, even with consistently-great demand.
“We’ve had good years, very good years,” said Frost. “This one’s gonna be another good one, but we were only able to get 300 trees, and that’s a problem nationwide we realized.”
Regardless of the number of trees they receive, the Club has always managed to sell out of their stock in just a few days. Proceeds from the sale go directly towards local and statewide programs, including Cub Sight, which provides eye checks for young children in the community.
“I actually had a woman come in and said we helped her son, or her child, I’m not sure if it was a boy or a girl, through our Cub Sight program in the schools where we do testing,” said Kevin Switzer, who has been a member of the Pineville Lions Club for almost 40 years. “He failed the test, or she failed the test. They had him checked out, and [they] really needed some work done on their eyes.”
In a season that is sometimes defined by what people get, the Club’s tree lot has continued to be all about what each person can give. For Club members, it is when people do their part this season that allows them to continue doing the Club’s part all season long.
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