Donation helps Kiwanis continue tradition
After the Eldorado Kiwanis Club announced it would be unable to hold its annual Christmas tree sale this year due to tree shortages, a surprise donation came in and the sale is back on, organizers said.
The club has sold Christmas trees for the last 59 years, but as it was entering its 60th season, the national supply chain disruption combined with inflation impacted the club’s ability to obtain trees at a reasonable price to resell them, organizers said.
The annual sale benefits the Miracle League of Blair County and the Teener League at Seitz Field, so canceling the sale impacted both organizations.
That’s where Jeremy Shaw stepped in.
The local Lowe’s garden sales floor department supervisor, Shaw said he read about the club’s decision to not sell trees this year and emailed the club to see if Lowe’s could help.
Kiwanis member and former board member Ed Shrift got in touch with Shaw, then Shaw spoke with his supervisors, eager to help support the club and the organizations the sale helps.
“I went to my store manager to see if there was something we could do to help keep the tradition alive,” Shaw said.
Shaw said that Lowe’s recently received a large shipment of trees from Michigan and Canada, more than he thought they would be able to sell, so he knew it was possible to donate a few.
Shrift said that any number of trees was helpful since the club was out of options. He said Shaw’s idea felt like a miracle.
“Somebody in my family coined it a ‘Miracle on 58th Street,’ since the club is right off 58th Street,” Shrift said.
On Sunday, when Shrift went to pick up the 25 Fraser firs donated by Lowe’s, he found his Christmas miracle just kept growing.
Ridge Barner, spouse of one of Lowe’s assistant managers, overheard the conversation between Shrift and Shaw in the garden center Sunday and volunteered to deliver the trees to the club using his pickup truck.
Shrift said that was another example of things lining up to make the sale possible.
The sale is a group effort, Shrift said, but he is the primary person at the club every day to sell the trees.
That’s why he was afraid that missing the sale this year would make it hard for it to return next year. Shrift said without his Christmas miracle, the sale likely would have fallen by the wayside, and the tradition would have died.
Last year, the club had 225 trees, started the sale on Black Friday and sold out within a week.
This year, Shrift said it won’t be as easy to sell the trees since the club had announced that the sale wouldn’t be happening and many families have already purchased their Christmas trees.
That does not leave Shrift without hope, though.
“We support the community, they support us,” Shrift said. “They’re like angels in the outfield to us.”
The club announced it would start selling trees Monday, but Shrift said he started setting up Sunday and sold three that day. He sold two more Monday evening and the count is down to 20.
The remaining trees will be available at the Kiwanis Club, 5939 California Ave., from 3-7 p.m. each day this week or until sold out.
Mirror Staff Writer Nate Powles is at 814-946-7466.