Fighting pandemic isolation: Christmas tree sales to help vulnerable youth start next week
Aunt Leah's Place Christmas tree lots open the last week of November. (Aunt Leah's Place photo)
VANCOUVER -- Venturing out to choose a Christmas tree at a local lot benefiting charity is a holiday season tradition for many. This year, people in Metro Vancouver will still have that chance, with a few changes in the name of safety during the pandemic.
Next week, Christmas tree lots raising funds for Aunt Leah’s Place will open in various cities for their annual sale. The organization supports vulnerable youth aging out of foster care and young mothers and their babies, offering everything from supportive housing and rental subsidies to food hampers, infant supplies and clothing.
Sarah Stewart, executive director, told CTV the pandemic has made this an especially challenging time for the young people they support.
“The young people that we work with, and the families that we work with, they’re especially at an increased risk for isolation and loneliness,” Stewart said. “Supporting Aunt Leah’s and the work of other charities really goes to break down those systems that keep them isolated and at risk.”
As it has for many other charities, the pandemic has also impacted Aunt Leah’s fundraising efforts throughout the year, cancelling an event in March and temporarily closing their thrift store.
Stewart said the annual Christmas tree sales are an important fundraiser for the charity.
“We’re hopeful that our customers will come back again and feel safe enough to come and shop and support a really great organization, a really great group of kids,” she said.
Stewart said people have a number of options when it comes to picking out a tree.
“For those who still want a tree but don’t want to come and actually do it in person, you can order online and it can either be picked up curbside or delivered to your house,” Stewart said, adding Aunt Leah’s has actually had an online option for years now.
“That’s really picked up over the years and we’re anticipating that there’ll probably be an increased demand for that this year.”
For people who still plan on picking out their tree in person, Stewart said there will be a number of new measures, including more space and bigger aisles for distancing at the lots, limits on how many people can be on the lot at one time, and a mask requirement.
“This year more than ever, I definitely encourage everyone, if getting a Christmas tree is part of your holiday tradition to go out and support those local charity tree lots,” Stewart said.
Stewart said the Vancouver lot will open next Thursday, Nov. 26, followed by the Burnaby and Coquitlam lots on Friday, Nov. 27.
Tree Lot Locations:
Vancouver- St. Stephen’s United Church (54th Avenue and Granville Street)
Coquitlam - Eagle Ridge United Church (2813 Glen Dr.)
Burnaby - All Saints Anglican Church (Royal Oak Avenue and Rumble Street)
North Vancouver (Curbside pick up only for North Shore orders) - Lonsdale Quay, East Plaza (123 Carrie Cates Court)
If you’d like to volunteer at a tree lot, you can sign up online, or contact Hope Rayson at 778-551-5535, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.