THUNDER BAY – In a year bent out of shape by the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers with the Kiwanis Club of Westfort are happy at least one Christmas tradition can continue.
Helpers were on hand hoisting Scotch pines and balsam firs Saturday, as the club opened its Christmas tree lot at the CLE grounds, an annual fundraiser that's been supporting the group’s community work for over four decades.
Board member Dino Bruni said while the sale of nearly 600 trees this year will boost the group's contributions to organizations like Our Kids Count and several scholarships, bursaries, and meal programs, it’s also a tradition volunteers look forward to in its own right.
“It’s a feel-good project,” he said. “We see the young families that come, the kids that pick the trees, older couples who tell us how long they’ve been doing this, parents making sure their kids have a Christmas tree in their new home, students who want to have a real tree in their dorm.”
Club president Geralyn Ross agreed, saying the group aimed to keep prices, which range from around $60 to $140 inclusive of tax, competitive.
“We provide a product at a reasonable price, [and it helps] underprivileged families, especially youth,” she said.
The Kiwanis tree lot will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.
The pandemic has brought some changes to the operation, with volunteers masking and maintaining physical distance from customers, and the introduction of contactless payment.
Sales will run until Christmas, or until the group sells out. Ross reported encouraging first-day sales Saturday afternoon, but said it was difficult to predict whether or how the pandemic would affect demand.