The Mobile Optimist Club will not be hosting its Christmas tree lot at the corner of Virginia and Ann Streets this year.
The Mobile Optimists Club Christmas tree lot has been around for Mobile families for more than 60 years, where they sell anywhere from 800 to 1,000 trees.
“Maybe five or six generations have been coming down here to purchase their tree and for most of them it’s a big event, they bring the whole family, they dress up sometimes. They buy their tree take it home and then enjoy their families company,” Mobile Optimist Club Secretary and Treasurer Paul Carter said.
But after calling more than 200 tree farmers they won’t be able to open the tree lot due to a tree shortage.
Carter says many years ago when farmers were struggling they were unable to plant as many trees, which is now causing this shortage.
Not only is it an important tradition it supports local charities and programs.
“Our main program that we support is the Boys and Girls Club of South Alabama beyond that we recognize the basketball players of the week, the swimmers of the week, cross country runners, on and on different sports programs,” Carter said.
The Boys and Girls Club Optimist Branch Director William Burks says the kids at the club are a big part of this fundraiser as they volunteer their time and also get paid a little something for the holidays.
“They use it for their Christmas money. They get tips from the customers that buy Christmas trees and they get pretty good tips. And they look forward to that. It’s work experience for them as well. They get a chance to meet a lot of new people, to give them some experience how to deal with customers, customer reaction and that kind of thing. So that’s disappointing that they’re not gonna have that experience this year,” Burks said.
While they won’t open up the tree lot this year they want people to come back and support them next year.
“It’s sad that we’re not gonna have it this year but we’re going to think optimistic, as we are optimists, and hopefully we will be back next year,” Burks said.
Carter says they believe they have enough funding to support programs and charities for about a year but they’d appreciate any additional donations the community would like to give.
Donations can be made out to Mobile Optimist Club and sent to P.O. Box 161165 Mobile, AL 36616.