LAURINBURG — Surrounding a fire inside a tin barrel, a few members of the Laurinburg Optimist Club tried to keep warm this week at the club’s annual holdiday fundraiser — the Christmas tree lot.
About 700 trees were imported this year to the lot beside the Clinton Inn, which allows the club the use of the land free of charge, from a tree farm in Jefferson. Weaths and garland, fashioned by local churches, are also for sale.
When people purchase a tree, club members shake, wrap and load the cargo into the customer’s vehicle. Ron Riggins, a member of the club who manned the lot on Wednesday, laughed as he said that there’s nothing they don’t do to supply a customer with the tree of their choosing — “except decorate it.”
“We have families that have been getting trees from here for generations,” Riggins said.
The club offers warm refreshments for customers and an assortment of tree accessories, including tree stands and watering systems. Everything will be for sale up to two to three days before Christmas, or until they run out of trees.
Money raised from the fundraiser will go to the youth programs in the county that the club supports, like the local little league baseball and softball teams.
“It’s about the kids,” Riggins said.
Riggins said that Steve Cole, chair of the Christmas tree committee, works hard to make sure the fund-raising operation runs smoothly. He writes out the tree orders, calls truck drivers and makes sure that the fundraiser is a success.
There are about 80 members in the Optimist Club and they schedule about three to four members to work at the tree lot everyday. The club started in 1961 and has been selling trees as a fundraiser since 1963, making Christmas tree sales the club’s oldest fundraiser.