Christmas tree charity lot hoping holiday spirit roars in early this year
VANCOUVER -- With 2020 slowly winding to a close, many people can’t wait for this pandemic year to officially end.
We’ve got to get through December and the holidays first – and organizers of one charity tree lot think a little bit of Christmas spirit might be just what the doctor ordered.
Aunt Leah’s Tree lot, in the front yard of St. Stephen’s United Church at the intersection of West 54th Avenue and Granville Street, is setting up for its 26th year.
"It's one of our biggest fundraisers for the organization. Money raised goes to support the moms and babies that we work with, and young people who are in and from government care,” said Sarah Stewart, executive director of Aunt Leah’s Place.
The charity helps young mothers and youth aging out of foster care find stable housing and gain work experience.
Ten years ago, Sherry Michell walked through the front doors with her two-month-old daughter. She says Aunt Leah’s Place helped her turn her life around.
"Being young and not knowing where to go, what to do, or how to do it, is very scary,” said Michell. “And through the support of Aunt Leah's, they helped me get back on my feet."
The charity hopes to raise $250,000 from sales at the Granville location.
It also has lots in Burnaby and Coquitlam, and the overall fundraising goal this year is $550,000.
As symbols of the holiday season slowly begin to appear and people start decorating their homes, volunteers at the tree lot think Christmas might mean a little more in this strange pandemic year.
“You know, having a festive home, your trees, your lights ... I think it would be nice to be a little extra this year,” said Michell.
The footprint of the lot has been expanded this year to give people more room to physically distance while selecting a tree.
Masks are required and hand sanitizer is available, but those with COVID-19 concerns can place an order online for delivery or curbside pickup.
For those who need to see, touch and smell their Christmas tree before knowing it’s the right one, the lots will be open seven days a week starting Thursday, Nov. 26.