Christmas trees benefit local group
Okotoks: Annual sale raises thousands for 1st Okotoks Scouts program
Wednesday, Dec 13, 2017 06:00 am
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for Okotoks Scouts.
Each winter, 1st Okotoks Scouts brings 450 Christmas trees to town for its largest fundraiser of the year. Last year the troupe raised nearly $8,000 for its program while bringing holiday joy to local families.
“The kids really enjoy getting out there and selling trees and helping people pick their favourite Christmas tree,” said Jackie Heuver, section leader with 1st Okotoks Scouts. “We have all our youth from Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Venturers working our tree lot any given night.”
Funds raised from the annual tree sale go toward scouting adventures, including weekend camps for older kids and overnight sleepovers for younger groups, she said. It also covers food and equipment for backcountry camping, she said.
Though the organization makes a good amount of its money at the Christmas tree lot, the trees aren’t too pricy, she said. In fact, the 1st Okotoks Scouts haven’t raised the prices on their trees in nearly a decade, despite increased costs to purchase and transport the trees to Okotoks.
Balsam and Fraser fir trees come from Ontario and cost $65 and $60 respectively, she said. The B.C. firs go for $4 per foot.
The Okotoks Scouts tree lot, in the Safeway parking lot, is open Monday through Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Though there haven’t been a lot of Christmas tree fires in the Okotoks area, fire chief Ken Thevenot said homeowners still need to be vigilant.
“When they start to dry, they can become very flammable,” said Thevenot. “You have to make sure they’re watered, make sure the water is maintained or always full.”
He said people in town are generally good about their trees, but he has witnessed some Christmas tree fires over the years. They can go up very quickly, he said.
“It’s not a typical fire but they have in the past caused some damages, that’s for sure,” said Thevenot. “It’s so combustible.”
He said videos available online demonstrate how fast flames can spread through a tree when it hasn’t been properly watered or cared for. They can be an eye-opener for some people, he added.
Besides keeping trees watered, other safety considerations include ensuring tree stands fit properly to prevent trees from tipping over into potential fire hazards like candles or fireplaces, Thevenot said.
Trees should also be kept away from heat sources, including indoor heaters, fireplaces and even televisions, he said. Thevenot suggests keeping a fire extinguisher on-hand and in good working order in case of any issues.
“Also shut the lights off, don’t leave them on overnight because they can generate heat,” he said. “And when you get rid of the tree, don’t keep it around. Dispose of it properly, and don’t even keep it in the garage because it could be a hazard there as well.”
In Okotoks, Christmas tree disposal is provided by the Town after the holidays, for two weeks beginning Jan. 8. Residents can leave their Christmas trees in the same location as their garbage pick-up, and they will be collected by the Town.
There are some options for those who wish to dispose of trees earlier, or who do not make the deadline, but Lyons said the Town prefers all Christmas trees are left curbside during the two-week collection period.
“We’re hoping that residents will be able to put their trees out on time,” said Lyons. “We’re still going to assign the northeast corner of the new operations centre for collecting trees, but there would still be a deadline where after that we won’t accept any more trees.”