Always optimistic, nonprofit continues tree fundraiser

Community support for annual tree lot is evergreen

Posted 12/5/17

It’s been a bumpy road for the Golden Optimist Club to get the annual tree sale up and going this year. The trailer the Optimists use to stay warm and conduct business got damaged from this …

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Always optimistic, nonprofit continues tree fundraiser

Community support for annual tree lot is evergreen

Posted

It’s been a bumpy road for the Golden Optimist Club to get the annual tree sale up and going this year.

The trailer the Optimists use to stay warm and conduct business got damaged from this year’s spring hailstorm. Their tree lot space is a bit more cramped than the previous two years because there is a construction project going on in the parking lot. And they did not even know what the trees would look like this year because their longtime, local wholesale tree supplier stopped doing Christmas trees.

But, they’re “always optimists,” said Suzy Stutzman, who has been involved with the nonprofit bicycle recycle program for about five years.

They replaced the windows and repaired the roof on the trailer. U.S. Bank welcomed them back, even though it meant the business’s parking lot would be cut back in size. And 350 trees were delivered from Michigan and set up the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“Everybody pitched in and helped, and finally it all came together,” said Elmer Dudden, the Golden Optimists’ main tree lot organizer. “I think everyone is feeling good about it now.”

The Golden Optimists Club has been putting on its annual tree sale since probably sometime in the mid-1970s, Dudden guessed, adding he joined the club in 1985 and it had been going on for at least 10 years prior.

This year, the Optimists will sell the trees until Dec. 23 or until they’re gone. And they do sell out of trees just about every year, Dudden said. People appreciate the prices, which didn’t go up this year despite the hardships, and the quality of the trees, he added.

“It’s a fun project,” Dudden said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here and selling the trees.”

The tree sale is the club’s main fundraiser. Proceeds benefit the club, which fixes up bicycles and donates them to any community member in need, and its community service projects.

“It’s for a great cause, and that’s really why I’m here,” said Golden resident Robb Classens, who purchased a wreath to hang on his front door. “Golden is a phenomenal community, as is Jefferson County. I want to pay it forward in any way that I can.”

Golden-based Boy Scout Troop 329 has been volunteering at the Optimists’ tree lot for a number of years, said Amity Joyce, the troop’s tree sales liaison and co-secretary of Troop 329’s Committee. The tree lot provides the scouts with an opportunity to support and partner with their charter organization, Joyce said, while giving the boys an outlet to be trustworthy, courteous, kind, friendly and cheerful.

“Volunteering builds character,” she said. “They have to learn to take direction. They have to listen to other people’s needs. They’re dealing with a lot different personalities, so volunteering helps hone their interpersonal skills as well.”

The scouts genuinely enjoy volunteering at the tree lot and working with the Optimists, Joyce said.

“I’ve stopped by on slow days and found the Optimists helping a scout with his homework,” she added. “There’s a natural mentoring that takes place without anyone even realizing it. None of that would happen without the tree lot.”

There are about 30 boys in the troop, who range in age from 11 to 17. They are there for the tree delivery and lot set up, and work shifts on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. They also try to help out on the weekdays after school, when they can, Joyce said.

“The boys are there as long as there are trees to sell,” Joyce said.

Dobhran Wilcoxen, 16, has been volunteering at the Optimists’ tree lot as a Boy Scout since he was 12. He looks forward to it every year, he said, because it is fun to hear the Optimists’ stories, and he likes to talk with the customers about the different trees.

“At the tree lot, we help get the lights up, get the trees in the stands, set up the hot chocolate stand and then we start selling. We sell the trees, cut off the ends and secure them onto people’s cars,” Wilcoxen said. “My favorite task is actually selling the trees and telling people about them. I like interacting with the customers.”

Similarly, his fellow scout Christian Baker, 11, enjoys selling the trees because he likes to help people pick out the best tree for them, he said. But it’s also fun because he gets to hang out in his own private forest, Baker said.

“It’s important to volunteer at the tree lot because the Optimists need our help to keep the tree lot going to be able to provide the support they give to different groups in our community,” Baker said, “including my Boy Scout troop.”

Allison Sendziak made the drive from Longmont to buy a tree from the Optimists because her son is a Boy Scout, and the trees are well-priced, she said. But another reason is because she remembers the tree her family in Golden had last year.

“Their tree from this lot was so pretty last year,” Sendziak said. “So this year, I wanted to come get mine from here.”

The Optimists started out with 36 wreaths to sell, and about half of them were decorated by Golden-based Girl Scout Troop 60302.

“As a troop, it’s a nice bonding experience,” said Chris DeMink, co-leader of the troop. “But it also gives the girls an opportunity to work with another community service organization.”

DeMink’s daughter Katie, 14, has been a Girl Scout since she has been in the second grade, and she and the other four girls in the troop have been decorating the wreaths for about five years.

The girls especially enjoy the creative and fun side of it, Katie DeMink said. The wreaths become more beautiful and improved every year because each girl is always coming up with new ideas and details to include.

“We put a lot of effort into them,” Katie DeMink said.

But the troop is also happy to be helping out the Golden Optimists, she said.

“We’re all just trying to benefit the community, and that’s why we do it.”

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